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First political party run by ex-regime figure receives official approval

A party founded and led by Hossam Badrawi, a hospital tycoon and former secretary general of the NDP, has received official approval, despite demands that corrupt former regime figures be banned from political life

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Tuesday 20 Sep 2011
Hossam Badrawi
Hossam Badrawi

Al-Etihad (Unity) Party is far from being just another political party. Approved this week by the Egyptian Committee of Electoral Affairs, it is the first political party led by a figure from the ex-ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) to be officially recognised after the revolution.

Hossam Badrawi, a well-known health industry tycoon, was a major figure in Egypt’s political life during the rule of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. Over the past decade, Badrawi has held positions within Parliament, the Upper House, and the National Democratic Party.

Badrawi was appointed secretary general of the NDP at the time of the uprising, but resigned only five days afterwards following claims that he was misled by Mubarak and his affiliates about the regime’s intentions to carry out radical reforms that would contain the protests.

Badrawi had also been a member of the Policies Committee of the NDP at the time of the corrupt parliamentary elections of December 2010 and for years before. The Policies Committee was always well-known as a vehicle of the party's inner circle, many of which were known to be the most corrupt symbols of the regime.

Interestingly, no mention of Badrawi’s membership in the Policies Committee was made in his biography or on his official website. Badrawi, upon embarking on a new phase in his record, could be seen as trying to redeem himself from some aspects of his political past.

Controversy surrounded Badrawi after the revolution when he had first announced that he might form a political party, since not everyone in Egypt agreed that he was a corrupt symbol of the NDP. This could give Badrawi’s party an advantage, since he is perceived by some to have been one of the leaders of the opposition voices within the NDP.

On the other hand, many political groups are stressing the necessity of prohibiting any figure from the old regime from re-enter political life after the revolution. A provision for a treason law was proposed shortly after the revolution, which prohibits any person who has contributed to sabotaging political life in Egypt from re-entering the political arena. The law has not yet been officially approved by the judicial system in Egypt.

As elections draw near, many new parties are striving to obtain official approval. A blacklist has been passed around via social media in Egypt which details the parties that were formed by ex-regime figures, aiming to spread awareness about their real backers and discourage Egyptians from supporting them.

Many arguments are made about this being a crucial timing for a treason law to be enacted, in order to prevent the remnant figures of the old regime from finding their way back into parliament.

That being said, some wonder if there is any intended reason for the approval of the treason law to be postponed.

“Political rulers in Egypt may be trying to create a particular balance of power in Egypt’s political arena by allowing those who have electoral experience and financial abilities to even out the Muslim Brotherhood’s presence. The result would influence the political struggle that will begin in parliament over the mechanism of choosing the president and formulating the constitution,” comments Nabil Abdel-Fattah, deputy head of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

Following the approval of Hossam Badrawi’s party, the next phase leading up to the elections will reveal whether the rest of the black-listed parties will receive official recognition.

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