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Opposition rallies against parliament

Opposition parties and groups demonstrate to protest election rigging, and plan to form shadow parliament

Salma Shukrallah, Sunday 12 Dec 2010
Photo: Nasser Nouri
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On Kifaya's 6th anniversary, and, incidentally, the same day as President Mubarak's post-election speech, hundreds of protestors from opposition parties and groups demonstrated in front of the Supreme Court today chanting the slogan "the parliament is null".

In a very rare scene, former MPs representing all opposition parties including the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Wafd, Ghad, Tagammu, and the would-be El-Karama party stood together with their supporters protesting election results, claiming they were "blatantly rigged."

Other organizations and groups were also present, including Kifaya, The National Association for Change (NAC), the 6th of April Movement and Hashd (a recently formed leftist group).  

Flags representing each group colored the demonstration with yellow (Kifaya), orange (Ghad), green (Wafd), red (Hashd) and black (6th of April), along with the national Flag. Demonstrators carried a model of the parliament with the word "null" written on it.

The hundreds of protestors present represented the entire political spectrum of the opposition. A young MB woman in her early twenties, Sarah, said that she never saw the opposition in such agreement.

The opposition had in fact disagreed about most decisions leading up to the elections, including whether to boycott the first round or not and whether to withdraw from the second. Although many dismissed the boycott call, the main opposition parties, except for the Tagammu, withdrew in the second round.

Diaa Rashwan, one of Tagammu's MP candidates who participated in today's protest, says that although he was for withdrawing in the second round, he had to abide by the Party's majority decision to participate. "I have a clear and strong stand against rigging in general but I am also here for the personal reason that I lost in this year's elections as a result of such rigging," adds Rashwan.

Referring to the December 4th High Administrative Court verdict making null and void the election results of all the constituencies where voting was cancelled, former MP Mustafa Bakry says that "the high administrative court made null and void the results of 92 constituencies which is evidence of fraud".  

The opposition is not planning to stop with this demonstration. Several of the former MPs proposed the creation of a shadow parliament with representation from all opposition parties and groups.

Mustafa Sherdi, a member of the Wafd party, says "this is just the beginning for us. We want a real parliament. Egypt deserves a democratic parliament. It's just unacceptable that Egypt's parliament is basically an appointed rather than an elected one".

Bakry explains that plans are underway to form a shadow parliament and that at least 120 former MPs who were excluded from the recent elections intend to be members. "We're planning to draft a new constitution for this country that would guarantee democratic practice and free and fair elections," says Bakry.

Other MP figures present at today's demonstration included Hamdin Sabahy (Karama party), Mohamed El-Beltagy (MB) and Ramy Lakah (Wafd).

The NDP’s sweeping 95 per cent victory in the first round of the parliamentary elections shocked the opposition, which scored only six seats. The Brotherhood scored none. The oldest opposition party, the Wafd, was expecting somewhere between 20 and 30 seats in the two rounds, in tune with repeated statements by state officials, but scored only seven.

 

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