The proposal to issue a law than bans members of the former Egyptian ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) from running in the upcoming parliamentary elections, which is currently being studied by the Higher Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF), has caused much controversy. Some political forces view it as necessary for a real democracy in Egypt, while others have criticized it for setting a precedent of political isolation.
The only way to cleanse Egypt of corruption is to rid from parliament and government all those who took part in the rampant political corruption that swept the country before the January 25 Revolution, argued members of the youth movements; the National Consensus Conference issued a recommendation to the same effect.
While some who support the ban demand the prevention of all former NDP members from participation in political life, others point to MPs who took part in the fraudulent 2005 and 2010 parliamentary elections, as well as the party’s senior officials in the five years that proceeded the fall of the regime.
The SCAF announced Saturday that it will study the proposed ban on what has come to be known as “remnants” of the former regime for two years.
The law, however, has been met with strong objections from several political parties, 11 leaders of which held a meeting at the headquarters of al-Horreya Party and issued a statement condemning it.
“Political isolation constitutes an execution of the people,” Moataz Mahmoud, leader of al-Horreya Party, told the Egyptian daily independent al-Masry al-Youm.
“Almost all clans and tribes in the Sinai Peninsula and Upper Egypt were NDP members but have never done anything and were also deprived of their rights as citizens.”
Mahmoud pointed out that those families will not accept further isolation now that they have a chance to truly participate in political life.
“I am concerned about what their reaction might be in case this law is approved.”
Mahmoud added that his party, and other parties present at the meeting, will meet with 500 candidates, each supported by an entire constituency (which is almost 30,000) in order to discuss the possibility of rallying against the law.
“We can mobilize 15 million. We need to make it clear that we are strong and that our silence has not been out of weakness.”
According to Salah Hassaballah, leader of al-Mowaten al-Masry (the Egyptian Citizen) Party, SCAF made a grave mistake when it decided to meet with only some political forces while ignoring others.
“We hold SCAF accountable for the consequences of [committing] political genocide of former NDP members.”
The proposed law has already drawn angry reactions from families expected to suffer most in case it is passed and threats of escalation echoed in the meeting of political parties opposed to the law, al-Masry al-Youm reported.
“We won’t allow three or four parties to run the country as they wish and put pressure on SCAF under the pretext that they represent all Egyptians because they do not,” said an attendee from Northern Sinai.
Another attendee from Upper Egypt threatened to wreak havoc in the country if the law is approved.
“We will cut electricity cables, block railway lines, and occupy governorates. Let them show us what the few parties that went to the SCAF meeting will do when all hell breaks loose.”
Sources told Al Arabiya that if the law is approved, the number of those banned from political life will reach 2,000 members of the disbanded parties, many of which served as MPs between the years 2000 and 2011.
(This article was translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)