UPDATED: Revolution Youth Coalition disband with end of Egypt's 'transitional phase'

Zeinab El Gundy , Saturday 7 Jul 2012

After a year and a half, the Revolution Youth Coalition (RYC) disbands Saturday. Ahram Online takes a brief look at the January 25 Revolution's most high-profile umbrella group

Revolution Youth Coalition
Revolution Youth Coalition press conference in 2011 (Photo:Zeinab El Gundy)

Egypt’s Revolution Youth Coalition (RYC) has officially announced its dissolution during a press conference Saturday citing that Egypt’s post-revolution transitional period had come to an end. Whether the coalition – which included a disparate array of political forces – failed or succeeded in achieving its revolutionary goals, however, still remains the source of debate.

The conference was supposed to be held last Tuesday but was delayed until Saturday for undisclosed reasons. Upon the delay, rumours circulated that the coalition was mulling over postponing its dissolution until a new constitution is ratified.

The suggestion was ruled out at the press conference held at the El Sawy Culturewheel in the upscale district of Zamalek, Cairo.

Last week, RYC co-founder Shady El-Ghazli Harb told reporters that, following the recent election of a new civilian president, there was “no longer a need” for the revolutionary youth group that emerged with such force in the wake of last year’s Tahrir Square uprising.

Abdel-Rahman Fares, another RYC co-founder, echoed this sentiment. “There’s no longer a need for the coalition,” Fares told Ahram Online. “We already agreed that the RYC’s role would conclude with the end of Egypt’s transitional period.”

Fares went on to say that the RYC planned to hold a press conference on Saturday at which coalition members would issue a comprehensive statement listing their successes in achieving revolutionary goals.

In a recent statement on Twitter, the activist stated that he, along with some other RYC members, had wanted the coalition to remain in existence until a new constitution was drafted. In the end, however, they had agreed to disband following just-concluded presidential elections that put the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in the presidential palace.

Formed during last year’s 18-day uprising, the RYC first emerged as a political coalition representing disparate currents of revolutionary youth. Following the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak, the coalition became an official representative of the Egyptian revolution, issuing media statements and holding talks with Egypt’s then-ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) – at least until the army’s forceful dispersion of a Tahrir Square sit-in on 8 April of last year.

Throughout 2011, the RYC’s role was felt in Tahrir Square protests and sit-ins, both through its official demands and statements and through media statements issued by its members.

The RYC has not, however, been without its critics.

“I disagreed with the RYC from the outset, because I reject the notion of having a single entity representing the Egyptian revolution,” Mostafa El-Naggar, member of the dissolved People’s Assembly (the lower house of Egypt’s parliament), told Ahram Online.

The RYC’s membership boasted representatives from across the political spectrum, including the April 6 Youth Movement, the Muslim Brotherhood youth wing, the Democratic Front Party youth wing, the Karama Party youth wing, the ElBaradei support campaign, the Youth for Justice and Freedom movement, and the leftist Tagammu Party,in addition to prominent independent members, bloggers and activists.

The RYC’s ability to unite disparate political powers and parties was its strongest selling point – and its greatest weakness, since all the groups represented had their own particular agendas. The Muslim Brotherhood’s young cadres, for instance, were restricted by directives emanating from the group’s leadership, which often led to disagreements with the RYC’s more liberal or leftist members.  

Reconciling the RYC’s revolutionary goals with the agendas of individual groups and parties proved difficult, especially when the country entered the elections stage, with some coalition members running for parliament for different parties. Fares and Islam Lotfy, for example, represented the Tayar El-Masry party, while Ziad El-Eleimi– who became a member of parliament – ran on the ticket of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.

In a recent statement, Fares blasted the RYC’s performance.

“The coalition barely existed in the past six months,” he declared on Twitter. “And the RYC’s executive office hasn’t met in 12 months.”

"The coalition will officially be disbanded tomorrow, although, in reality, it disbanded two months ago," RYC co-founder Sally Toma, too, recently declared on Twitter. 

The coalition’s executive office, which included the representatives of 15 different political forces, came in for particular criticism for failing to equally represent all sub-groups within the coalition. It was also largely unclear how decisions were taken within the RYC’s executive office.

"Despite the coalition’s inclusion of different political forces, we found that some decisions and stands adopted by the executive office were biased towards certain groups at the expense of others,” Egyptian political analyst Ibrahim El-Hodeibi told Ahram Online.

“From the outset, the RYC lacked a clear strategy,” he added, “while the coalition’s hierarchy and decision-making process was always ambiguous at best.”

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