Morsi's speech tickles political groups' appetite for concessions

Sarah Mourad, Ekram Ibrahim and Nada El-Kouny, Tuesday 29 May 2012

The opposition groups and parties are listing their demands for the Brotherhood candidate in order to give him their support

Thousands gather in iconic square on day that Egypt's presidential election results are confirmed, pitting Mubarak-era PM Ahmed Shafiq against Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi in runoff vote on 16 and 17 June (Photo: Bassam El-Zoghbi)

Morsi's speech on Tuesday and the promises he made to Egyptians and political forces still fail to unite political powers around the candidate.

Different political parties saw in Morsi's speech an assurance that their approach of continuing to press for the demands of the January 25 Revolution has been vindicated. Yet, they are still undecided on whether to endorse him or not.

"Morsi's promises show that the democratic parties are on the right track protecting civil demands," Farid Zahran, member of the Social Democratic Party told Ahram Online.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)'s presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi made a long speech Tuesday to play down fears over his potential rule. 

Morsi, who won 24.7 per cent of the votes in the first round of presidential elections, will face-off with former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq in the second round, a deadlock for many political groups and parties.

Several political democratic parties conducted a meeting on Monday to highlight their demands on Egypt's incoming president and to discuss their position on the next next phase of the presidential elections. The Social Democratic Party and the Ghad Party were among the parties at the meeting, as well as representatives of the National Association for Change. They will release their document at a press conference on Wednesday.

According to Ayman Nour, head of the Ghad Al-Thawra Party , Morsi would need to dissociate himself from the Muslim Brotherhood and to give up any leadership position within the organisation's Freedom and Justice Party. This move, he said, would limit its domination over the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government.  

The second thing, according to Nour, is that a presidential team should be formed of ten political figures, to create a national salvation government, headed by an independent national figure. It should be made up of all political currents, including liberals and leftists, and should have adequate representation of women, Copts, and the youth.

Thirdly, a specialist committee should be formed which would combine the political programmes of different presidential candidates, forming a "comprehensive national project."

According to members of Morsi's campaign, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate accepted many of the conditions put forward by the liberal parties.

However, the Wafd Party made an announcement later Tuesday, after Morsi's speech, that they will neither endorse Morsi nor Ahmed Shafiq.

Sources inside the oldest liberal party told Ahram Online that the party was inclined to support Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister, as a candidate representing a secular state rather than an Islamic one as represented by the Muslim Brotherhood. It seems that Morsi's speech did not have enough impact on the Wafd Party to guarantee its support.

Moreover, the fact that the speech involved a number of compromises is evidence that there is strong opposition on the ground, and that this opposition is a powerful tool in achieving people's demands, according to Abdel Ghafaar Shokr, leading member of the Popular Socialist Alliance Party. "I don’t think that the incoming president would be able to break his promises the day he wins the elections," Shokr told Ahram Online.

Hoda Abdel Basset, media spokesperson for Hamdeen Sabbahi's presidential campaign, told Ahram Online in reaction to candidate Mohamed Morsi's press conference that they do not accept his promises. She explained, "they also promised us only six months ago that they will not dominate the People's Assembly or even enter the presidential race, but they did."

Abdel Basset explained that Sabbahi will not accept any position in future governments or ally with the Brotherhood's Morsi or Shafiq. "We will continue the revolution" she added.

Also, candidate Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh has so far refrained from announcing whether or not he will endorse Morsi in the runoffs. However, he said in press conference Monday that he certainly will not be backing Shafiq.

Abul-Fotouh had a meeting Tuesday evening with Sabbahi, as well as other left-leaning contenders, discussing runoffs and the violations during the polls.

Renowned Egyptian author Alaa El-Aswany on Friday said that revolutionary forces need to "protect the revolution" and thus should back Morsi." We have to unite or else the revolution will be lost," he said. He called for Morsi to provide guarantees to win the votes of those who would otherwise boycott.

Meanwhile the Boycotting campaign who are campaigning for a boycott of the runoffs, will have an open meeting on Tuesday evening at the Journalists Syndicate in Cairo and explaining their position and their reasons for it.

Morsi's conference on Tuesday took place amidst mounting pressure from secular and liberal political forces, who refuse to vote for Shafiq but at the same time are calling for guarantees that the Brotherhood will not establish an autocratic rule should Morsi assume power.

Morsi, who will compete with ex-Mubarak Ahmed Shafiq in a two-horse race in the runoffs slated for 16 and 17 June, held a press conference at a luxurious Cairo hotel. He made several promises guaranteeing justice and equality for all Egyptians, and also fair political participation for all across the spectrum.

Apart from stressing that the Islamic group would never dominate the political scene as many believe, Morsi also highlighted that his victory would benefit all layers of Egyptian society.

Further reassuring the public, the presidential finalist also reiterated he would immediately resign as the chairman of the FJP, the political wing of the Brotherhood, should he assume power, so as not to play both sides of the fence.

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