Egypt’s revolution groups to unite to back candidates

Salma Shukrallah, Wednesday 6 Apr 2011

Activists from 23 movements, fearing the next Egyptian parliament won't represent the revolution, present themselves in an assembly and work towards unity to support each others' parliament candidates

Tahrir square
Anti-government protestors demonstrate in Tahrir square (Photo: AP)

A meeting on Tuesday between 23 new political groups may not only be a beginning of another revolution coalition but also their answer to Egypt’s very uni-dimensional political scene: with political weight still only in the hands of groups who had power before Egypt’s 25 January revolution, an assembly of many of the current movements hoping for the prospect of a coalition may be just what the forces of change need to influence the future political map of Egypt.

These twenty three groups, formed on the heels of Egypt’s revolution, gathered at the Development Support Centre, a development consultancy office in Cairo’s Dokki district.

The place was packed with hundreds of people, all representing new political organisations formed to “continue the revolution” or counter the “counter-revolution.”

The aim of the assembly is to create a coalition that coordinates between the different groups to influence the coming elections and campaign for laws that would promote greater, freer and fairer political participation.

Four groups initiated the call for the meeting, namely El-Lotus, Association of the Progressive Revolution Youth, Masry Hor (Free Egyptian) and the National Front for Justice and Democracy.

Most of the groups agreed on campaigning for proportional representation in parliament and on possibly creating a list of candidates to support as well as promoting common demands put forth during the revolution.

Ahmed Imam, member of the National Front for Justice and Democracy, says “We need to be present on the ground in order to guarantee that the next parliament will represent the revolution. Grassroots, popular committees can choose the suitable candidates and we would have the role of supporting the chosen candidates. Together we will complete each other by joining our different strengths.”   

The evening started with a short introduction of each of the 23 groups by one of its members.

Visions were presented for the image of the coalition and the processes for how it would work. The participants suggested that the coalition would probably be working through a central office, which would create a database of the groups’ joint resources and manpower to coordinate better on common campaigns.

Hanin Hanafi, member of the Association of the Progressive Youth, sums up “the meeting was very fruitful as it brought all the different groups together. This can be a good start to better coordinate between all the different efforts. The Revolution Youth Coalition does not represent everyone, and independents also need representation. A coordinating committee will be formed from the different representatives for the coming elections.”

The coalition is expected officially launch on Sunday after the different representatives meet and possibly agree on a common vision, demands and role.  

The participants presented include:

The Association of the Progressive Revolution Youth, presented by member, Yara Shahin, is an initiative taken on 15 February that sought to create an organised body that would work for a civil state, which respects the rule of law and fights for freedom, social justice and human dignity. It aims to coordinate and work with other political groups and contribute to raising awareness.

El-Lotus, presented by member, Ahmed Bahgat, is a group of civil society activists that seek to fight the counter-revolution through lobbying. The structure of the group changes according to the issue at hand.

Masry Hor (Free Egyptian), presented by member, Ramy Shaath, is a political movement which met in Tahrir Square during the 18-day revolt. The members aim to create a new, free and civil system and promote awareness on political systems and institutions. It envisions a democratic and civil state that is not ruled by military or religious inclinations. It has a media component.

The National Front for Justice and Democracy is a coalition of individuals who aim to provide representation to those who have contributed to the making of Egypt’s revolution, but are not organised or presented by a particular political group or body. It aims to promote and defend democracy, social justice and independent foreign policies. It works to influence the outcomes of the elections and campaign for better laws that would affect the outcome, such as laws related to freedom of political participation, party formation and the structure of the election process.

El-Sahwa (The Awakening), is a pressure group aiming to influence election results and defends proportional representation. It works through different committees of which each is responsible for a different task.

The Popular Committees for the Defence of the Revolution, presented by member, Ahmed Ezzat, is made up of a group of committees, which were formed during the revolution to counter the media campaign attacking the revolutionaries. It seeks to interact with the people to influence their view on politics and lobby them to defend the revolution. The committees work in five different districts in Cairo as well as in the governorates of Ismailia and Alexandria. They have a publication called Revolutionary Egypt (Masr El-Thawreia) of which thousands of copies are distributed monthly by hand in different districts and neighbourhoods. The committees will hold a conference end of April to declare its main principles. So far, the main principles the committees defend are freedom, social justice and independent foreign policies. They do not accept funding, except for individual donations. They do not accept to be controlled by a particular political party or religious affiliation. They have a blog and a Facebook group.

Rasd el-Barlaman (Monitoring the Parliament) is a group with a supervisory role. It seeks to supervise the government and supports a non-corrupt parliament, which would act as a supervisory body on the government’s tasks. The group, consequently, will monitor the elections and, afterwards, the elected members on what extent they implement their campaign promises. The group is present in Cairo, Alexandria, Qena, Aswan and Suez. The group has a Facebook page.

Magles Tahrir Masr (The Council for Freeing Egypt) the group aims at encouraging the youth to nominate themselves for the elections and supports them in their campaign. They work in Assiout and Qena.

The Confederation of the 25 January Revolutionaries is a group of young people who were in the Tahrir Square sit-in. They work on political awareness, creating a moderate religious movement to counter extremism and work on development by providing services. It also aims at supporting young Egyptians with academic merit through assisting them to find scholarships.

Haraket El-Shaab Helm Yatahaqaq (The People Movement: a Dream Realised), presented by member, Mohamed Sabry, aims at influencing the outcome of the elections to assure that the majority of the parliament members are corruption-free individuals.  

Hezb El-Ta’sees (Founding Party), presented by member, Tamer Yousif, is a group that aims at expanding the middle class to achieve development, political awareness and a civil state.

The Popular Front for Achieving the Demands of the Revolution in Helwan is a group made up of different political affiliations including leftists, nationalists and Muslim Brotherhood. It aims at promoting political awareness, monitoring the actions and decisions of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the cabinet and the local councils.

The People’s Alliance Socialist Party, presented by member, Amina Abd El-Rahman, started as a movement within the leftist Tagammu Party, seeking to reform the party and change its leaders. However, they were not able to reform the Tagammu and decided to form another party, which would bring together all the leftists in Egypt.

Masrena (Our Egypt), a group gathered after the referendum with a belief that awareness was required to achieve greater political freedom. The group is working on raising awareness for the coming elections. They are active in different districts within Cairo.

Bedaya (A Start), has four goals. To raise awareness, fight corruption, promote development and provide social services. They have a Facebook page.

Awareness Association (Rabtet Waey), aims at raising awareness to achieve a civil state.

Mosharka (Participations), presented by member, Ihab Ezzat, is a group which aims at promoting political awareness and lobbying people to remain active to defend the demands of the revolution.

Shababna (Our Youth), is a group of young Egyptians who aim to influence the elections and provide social services through grassroots committees.

La Mesh Sakteen (No We Will Not Be Silent) started as a Facebook group, through which young people share their views. The group later decided to meet and campaign for a “No,” vote on the constitutional referendum and decided to continue working on other common campaigns. They aim to work a as a lobby group or a pressure group to influence the parliament’s decisions.

The Voices of Freedom (Al Sawt Al Hor), presented by member, Ahmed Salah, is a group which works to raise political awareness and providing political training.

Artistic Support for the Revolution is a group of artists who aim to promote the revolution’s demands through art. They work through film, photography and different forms of artistic performances.  

The National Alliance Party aims to develop political engagement and break away from the Muslim Brotherhood and the old regime’s monopoly over political life in Egypt.  

Shabab El-Thawra (The Revolution Youth) aims to promote political awareness.

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