Strong Egypt Party slams 'crackdown' on campaign against constitution

Passant Darwish , Saturday 11 Jan 2014

In the past week authorities have arrested four Strong Egypt Party members for campaigning against the draft constitution, according to the party

Strong Egypt
Abdel-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh talks during interview with the Associated Press at his home in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 (Photo: AP)

The Strong Egypt Party denounced Saturday the arrest of one of its members for possessing flyers for the ‘vote no to the constitution’ campaign, in what they described as a crackdown on the opponents of the draft charter.

The arrest of party member Mahmoud Emam on Friday comes after similar arrest of three of the party's members on Wednesday, after they were apprehended while distributing the same flyers.

The three members were later released pending investigations on charges of "possessing flyers that incite a 'no to constitution' vote and also inciting obstruction of the constitution."

Spokesman for Strong Egypt Ahmed Emam said Saturday that the arrests are part of "a vicious campaign against anyone who opposes the draft constitution."

The charges also include disrupting the peace and attempting to overthrow the government.

Ahmed Emam told Ahram Online that the party’s campaign posters read "no to the constitution" and nothing else, yet the party members were charged with attempting to “overthrow the current authorities.”

"The authorities want a yes vote; anything that opposes them is considered rebellion," he added.

The arrests, according to Emam, have had a reverse effect on the party's members. "Those who were scared to campaign for a no vote are now more willing than ever because of the injustices," he explained.

Emam said that the party will hold a meeting Saturday night to discuss whether to continue campaigning for a no vote or to boycott the referendum altogether.

"We wanted to participate in the referendum at first because authority comes from the people, but what is happening now is the current authorities being authoritarian," he concluded. 

The Strong Egypt Party last week appealed the decision by interim President Adly Mansour to amend the political rights law Monday to allow citizens to vote in the referendum at polling stations not affiliated with the address listed on their national identification card, if they live in a different governorate.

The party argued that the president's decision is considered a direct interference in the work of the Supreme Electoral Commission by circumventing its earlier decisions.

However, the high electoral commission announced that a computerised database would be used to curb vote-duplication in the referendum.

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