Islamist Nour, Wasat parties cautiously positive about Egypt military statement

Ahram Online, Monday 1 Jul 2013

A number of Islamist parties are yet to issue official reactions to the armed forces' ultimatum, but many of the early reactions have praised the army

Thousand of people gathering to support Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Nasr City, on Sunday (Photo: AP)

Reactions among Islamist groups and political parties to a dramatic ultimatum by Egypt’s armed forces on Monday afternoon have been varied.

Several groups which are allied with embattled President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails are set to meet on Monday night to establish a common stance on the military’s statement, which gave political forces a deadline of 48 hours for the current political impasse to be solved.

Egypt saw unprecedented mass protests against Morsi this weekend, with millions taking to the streets in cities across the country calling for the president to step down and for early presidential elections to be held.

The meeting was called for by the Building and Development Party, the political arm of the hardline Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, and will be attended by the Watan Party, and others groups.

The Nour Party, a political offshoot of the Salafist Call group, will hold a separate meeting on Monday to determine its reaction to the statement.

The Nour Party was a former ally of Morsi and the Brotherhood, but relations have been strained recently, and the party refrained from taking part in either pro- or anti-Morsi demonstrations over the weekend, condemning the Muslim Brotherhood for feeding political polarisation.

Khaled Alam El-Din, a leading member of the Nour Party, described the statement by the Egyptian military as having a degree of ambiguity, and said that it needs further explanation.

Alam El-Din told Ahram’s Arabic website that even though national security is threatened by the extreme polarisation and by the violence taking place between the two sides, the party still has major concerns about the army’s return to power.

"We hope to get explanations and interpretations on what the next steps are so everyone is at ease," he said. "We hoped the army will intervene to set things straight since it is the protector of Egypt and they had to play a role in preserving the national safety of the country."

Alam El-Din said that the party’s crisis committee is following up on events and analysing them, and according to this the party will release an official statement soon.

Ramadan Battekh, a member of the Shura Council representing the Wasat Party, sees the military’s statement as an initiative to deal with the current political crisis.

“The army is siding with the people to solve the street politics,” he told Ahram Online. “We are with the army.”

The Wasat Party is a member of the pro-Morsi 'National Alliance to Support Legitimacy’ launched on Friday by Islamist political parties to "protect the Egyptian people's democratic gains." 

"The opposition may need to compromise on having a referendum on whether to have early elections or not, or early elections will simply be set up,” Battekh speculated. "However, the opposition forces will have to take part in the democratic process and participate in the state."

Member of the Salafist Watan Party Ahmed Kadry told Ahram Online that the statement reflects the fact that the army belongs to the people and not the ruler of Egypt. “We are very proud of the army and happy with it,” he said.

Watan is another ally of the ruling Islamist regime, but announced only one day before the planned 30 June protests that it would not join demonstrations being held by supporters of the president on the same day, in order to avoid violence.

“As far as Watan Party is concerned, we have no ceiling for public demands. Our only concern is to stop the bloodshed from both sides,” he said. “For us, the red line is the spilling of blood,” he added.

Kadry told Ahram Online that Islamist parties are calling on their supporters not to take to the streets in support of the president’s legitimacy, to avoid conflicts on the street with the opposition, especially in the governorates.

Mohamed Hassan Hammad, the media representative for Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, told Ahram Arabic website that the group would release a detailed statement commenting on the military statement later on Monday.

A leading figure in the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy who requested anonymity told Ahram Arabic that the army’s statement is ambiguous.

The source said that the reference to the fulfillment of “the people’s demands” could refer either to the protests calling to oust Morsi, or the demonstrations supporting him in Cairo and mostly in the provinces which, he argued, have not been covered by the media.

“It could be a statement in favour of Morsi’s supporters, as until now the demands of the people who support the army are not clear,” he said.

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