Revolution Youth Coalition's final news conference: Full audit of what we did

Zeinab El Gundy , Saturday 7 Jul 2012

In an emotional press conference marking the end of the Revolution Youth Coalition, members admit they made mistakes and offer a political audit of the revolutionary coalition as it dissolves

Nasser Abdel Hamid
Nasser Abdel Hamid and members of Revolution Youth Coalition ( Photo:Zeinab El Gundy)

Members of the Revolution Youth Coalition (RYC) held a press conference at El-Sawy Centre early Saturday to officially announce the dissolution of the umbrella group that was widely regarded as a driving force of the 25 January 2011 uprising.

"Officially, the Revolution Youth Coalition came to life on 6 February 2011 when its members refused to go to negotiate with Omar Sulieman (then vice president)," said Sally Toma, co-founder of the RYC.

"But actually, the Revolution Youth Coalition started its meetings before the revolution, on 23 January 2011, when some of its founding members met to organise for the 25 January 2011 protests.

"We never claimed that we are the official spokespersons of the revolution, despite what appeared in the media. We had always made it clear that we were only representing our movement only," Toma said.

"We took right decisions as well as wrong decisions," added Toma, explaining that dismantling the coalition will not mark the end of the political activism of its members.

"The coalition was for the transitional period and we have to renew our mechanics in defending our rights. Today is not the end," the leftist activist elaborated.

Coalition's political audit

In a move that has not happened in Egyptian political life before, the coalition presented a political audit statement that was read by coalition member Nasser Abdel Hamid.

"As we believe the Egyptian movement should present a political audit from time to time, and as we have a responsibility towards the people who believed in the coalition, we present a political audit," Abdel Hamid said before reading a statement that he has dedicated it to the injured and martyrs of the Egyptian revolution.

The political audit statement included the foundation of the RYC, the relation with the state, including the relation with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in power until President Mohamed Morsi was inaugurated, the Egyptian intelligence, public diplomacy and former premier Essam Sharaf's Cabinet.

In addition, the statement also touched on the position of the coalition towards last winter's parliamentary elections and presidential elections, the protests the coalition participated in and the mistakes it made, according to its assessment.

The RYC met with SCAF twice. The first meeting was in late February 2011 when RYC members presented their suggestions regarding political and economic reforms in the country.

The second meeting was in March 2011, when RYC members discussed several issues with Lieutenant General Mahmoud Hegazy, including the infamous virginity tests some women protesters were forced to undertake. All meetings with SCAF were stopped after the attack of the military police on protesters on 8 April 2011 in Tahrir Square, the focal point of the January uprising.

Abdel Hamid also spoke of the coalition's meeting with Egyptian intelligence, saying, "The coalition attended one meeting at the intelligence's headquarters, with its head Mouard Mouafi, as well as a number of prominent public figures in September 2011, while the Justice and Freedom Movement boycotted it."

Mistakes: Isolation, elections boycott

"We committed a mistake; we limited the membership of Revolution Youth Coalition," Abdel Hamid explained. "We should have been more open to other parties, groups and movements in Egypt," Abdel Hamid said.

"We were criticised that we cut relations and boycotted talks with the state," the independent activist said.

According to the statement, the coalition made another mistake in the parliamentary elections when its members were divided between boycotting the elections or participating in them. Members that decided to run for parliamentary seats were divided between the Revolution Continues Coalition, The Egyptian Bloc and independent seats. "It would have been better that all RYC members had joined one single electoral list," Abdel Hamid said.

Representatives of member movements and parties in the RYC participated in the final press conference, like Khaled Talimah of the Tagammu Party Youth, Tarek El-Kholi of the April 6 Youth Movement, Amr Ezz and Shady El-Ghazli Harb of the Democratic Front Party Youth, Former MP Bassem Kamel of the ElBaradei Support Campaign, Hossam Munoes of the Hamdeen Sabbahi Support Campaign and El-Karama Party, Mohamed El-Kassas and Islam Lotfy of the Egyptian Current Party and Khaled El-Sayid of the Justice and Freedom Movement.

Final speeches of coalition members mostly reflected on their positive memories of the coalition and how the coalition changed their views concerning other political powers, insisting that the revolution will continue by the Egyptian people even if the RYC does not exist.

Both Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh were represented by RYC members who read letters by the two former presidential candidates written to the coalition on the occasion of its dissolution. Both praised the role played by the coalition in a critical time for Egypt. The Hamdeen Sabbahi Support Campaign was a member in the coalition, while the Egyptian Current Party, which endorsed Abul-Fotouh in the presidential elections, was also a coalition member.

Nassef Abdel Hamid said during the press conference that Sabbahi, Abul-Fotouh and Mohamed ElBaradei are going to form a national political front, though this was denied by sources close to ElBaradei who spoke to Ahram Online.

Sabbahi has already announced his participation in the "Third Current" political movement organised by non-Islamist powers to be a counterweight to both the military and Islamists. On the other hand, Abul-Fotouh is currently working on founding his political party "Strong Egypt." ElBaradei is similarly working on his Constitution Party.

During the press conference, Youth For Justice and Freedom members distributed to reporters a snapshot from Al-Shorouk website’s news archive showing how the movement refused to attend meetings with SCAF and the intelligence services dating back to February and September 2011.

In final symbolic move, members of the RYC announced that their official Facebook page will be closed after 48 hours. "The last thing we will post is our political audit statement," Sally Toma announced. "After that, the official Facebook page will be closed forever."

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