CAIRO: The Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Egypt’s largest opposition group, launched a campaign on its website Thursday to collect signatures in support of the National Association for Change’s petition calling for constitutional amendments.
The MB is still, however, debating whether to participate in the upcoming People’s Assembly (PA) elections or to opt for a boycott, something ElBaradei has called for.
The petition, spearheaded by former IAEA head and reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei, outlines seven demands which include amendments to Articles 76, 77 and 88 of the constitution that pertain to the elections, judicial oversight and the number of presidential terms.
“Collecting signatures in support of the Association is the natural thing to do since the Brotherhood is supporting ElBaradei’s movement,” Brotherhood MP Hamdy Hassan told Daily News Egypt.
Although the Association previously announced that it will only take part in elections if they are guaranteed to be free and fair, Hassan maintained that “the issue of running in the upcoming elections is still being discussed among leaders of the Brotherhood.”
“Collecting signatures and boycotting elections are two different things,” he added.
On the possibility of a boycott, Hassan said, “We will only boycott if all other opposition parties do so, but the Brotherhood will not decide to boycott [elections] on its own.”
The group has been officially banned since 1954 which means that candidates run as independents in electoral races. Currently, they hold 20 percent of the PA’s seats.
Opposition parties remain divided over participation in the upcoming elections. While some have announced their determination to run, others have called for an abstention, which political analysts argue will only be effective if it’s a collective decision by all parties.
Last Tuesday, the leftist Al-Tagammu Party said that it will field 80 candidates in the PA elections, including eight women.
At the time Tagammu’s General Secretary Sayed Abdel-Aal said that his party’s decision to participate is an attempt to confront and change the political reality through active participation.
Similarly, last month the new head of Al-Wafd party El-Sayed El-Badawy called on Egyptians to cast their votes during the PA elections and be “the true observers of the elections.”
The PA elections slated for November precede a presidential race next year.
Meanwhile, coordinator of the Kefaya Movement for Change Hamdy Qandil said that since the constitutional amendments of March 26, 2007 “Egypt has not witnessed legitimate elections.”
“Parliamentary seats have become investment projects administered by Ahmed Ezz,” he told Daily News Egypt in June, referring to steel mogul Ezz, also an influential member of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).
Head of the Democratic Front Party (DFP) Osama Al-Ghazali Harb previously called for an election boycott in protest at the sweeping majority won by NDP candidates in the Shoura elections last May. Several opposition parties claimed the elections were rigged, citing acts of violence and thuggery.
The DFP is also part of the National Association for Change.