- Middle East/North Africa
A number of liberal parties and movements have agreed to form a new alliance called the Egyptian National Coalition to put pressure on President Mohamed Morsy.
The participating parties include Amr Moussa’s Conference Party, Hamdeen Sabbahi’s Popular Current, Mohamed ElBaradei’s Constitution Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
Participants in the meeting to form the new coalition, which was held Wednesday in the villa of former Manpower Minister Ahmed Hassan al-Borai, decided those who serve on the Constituent Assembly should withdraw on 1 October if the current assembly is not restructured to represent diverse political forces. They also said they would organize a week of mass rallies in public squares starting on Saturday.
Among the opposition leaders who attended the meeting were Moussa, Sabbahi, ElBaradei, Wafd Party chief Al-Sayed al-Badawy, Ghad al-Thawra Party chief Ayman Nour, Socialist Popular Alliance Party member Abdel Ghaffar Shokr and Egyptian Social Democratic Party member Ziad Bahaa Eddin.
Participants in the meeting pledged to hold Morsy accountable for promises he made during the election and to boycott parliamentary elections if a suitable constitution is not drafted.
Following the meeting, Sabbahi described the process of writing the new constitution as “the mother of battles” while Badawy said withdrawal from the Constituent Assembly should be a method of last resort. The participants said they are giving Morsy one week to address the concerns they have regarding the constitution-writing body.
“The way the Muslim Brotherhood is managing the affairs of the country go against popular attempts to transform Egypt into an institution-based state,” ElBaradei reportedly said during the meeting, urging attendees to issue a joint statement against the Brotherhood and Morsy.
Some Islamists, meanwhile, severely criticized ElBaradei, saying his statements are “politically distorted” and adding that his alliances will not work out because they are “villainous.”
Khaled Saeed, spokesperson for the Salafi Front, rejected the proposal to dissolve the Constituent Assembly and described it as “political frivolity.”
In his meeting with the Egyptian community in New York on Wednesday, Morsy said that he cannot interfere in the composition of the Constituent Assembly. When one of the participants shouted that he wanted the Constituent Assembly to be dissolved and restructured, Morsy said his role is restricted to monitoring the body.
Morsy praised the work of the assembly and said that it includes representatives from all of the country's political powers, but that some are unhappy with the percentage of representation allocated to the various groups.
Morsy also said that all powers agree on keeping Article 2 of the 1971 Constitution unchanged, which stipulates that the principles of Sharia are the basis of legislation. Some Islamists have advocated the language of that article be modified to allow for a stricter interpretation of Islamic law.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm