Sabbahi, ElBaradei mull launch of broad-based 'revolutionary alliance'

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Jun 2012

Eliminated presidential candidates announce plans to draw up umbrella group to press for outstanding revolutionary demands

Sabbahi and ElBaradei
Sabbahi and ElBaradei

First-round presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi and reform campaigner and founder of the newly-established Constitution Party Mohamed ElBaradei, met Monday evening to discuss the potential for creating a broad umbrella group to unite pro-revolution political forces.

While several meetings have been held by political figures for the same cause, most notably by "revolutionary presidential candidates" Sabbahi, Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, Khaled Ali, and Abul-Ezz El-Hariri, this is the first meeting held between Sabbahi and ElBaradei.

Nobel Laureate and former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), ElBaradei had presented himself as an alternative to Mubarak's dictatorship soon after leaving the IAEA in 2010. In doing so, he won great popularity among pro-democracy activists in Egypt and is considered among the factors that helped galvanise the Egyptian revolution in January 2011. For months considered a potential presidential candidate, ElBaradei ultimately refused to enter the presidentail race, declaring it a charade.

For his part, Sabbahi was the dark horse of the presidential election, coming into third place at around 22 percent of the vote (compared to 25 and 24 percent respectively for front-runners Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq), and easily winning Greater Cairo and Alexandria, the country's two major urban centres.

In an attempt to bring together different political and revolutionary forces by establishing a "popular current," the two announced their intention to build a movement that would ensure the continuance of the revolution. The two most popular pro-revolution leaders restated that it is an effort to ensure that the main demands called for at the onset of the 25 January Revolution—Bread, Freedom, Social Justice and national dignity are fulfilled.

More pressing issues were also discussed, including the Political Disenfranchisement Law that will be ruled on by the High Constitutional Court on Thursday, in addition to the current impasse over the Constituent Assembly, tasked with drafting the constitution.

Several notable media figures were also present, including Gamal Fahmy, Journalists Syndicate council member and Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Al-Tahrir.

In a televised interview on privately-owned CBC channel on Saturday ElBaradei lamented that it would have been better if Egypt's presidential candidates had not participated in the elections in the first place and instead insisted the constitution be drafted first.

During the interview ElBaradei also criticised "revolutionary" presidential candidates, such as the Islamist Abul-Fotouh, Sabbahi, El-Hariri and Ali for not uniting before the elections.

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