CAIRO: Founder of Al-Karama Party Hamdeen Sabahi called for the revival of socialist economic policies of the Nasserite era and the re-nationalization of privatized public properties.
Delivering a passionate speech to workers assembled at the Egyptian Center of Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) Monday, Sabahi said that change won’t come except through the physical presence of masses in the street.
"The Egyptian people are clear in what they want after decades of oppression and poverty. All we need to do is to fully comprehend these demands, articulate them and work on their achievement," Sabahi said.
Sabahi said that eradicating poverty, achieving democracy and restoring national sovereignty are the three main goals of his public campaign presidency.
"There has been deliberate violation of workers and peasants’ rights that they earned during Nasser’s era; we need to restore a fair distribution of the country’s proceeds and adopt legislations and actions biased to the poor," he said.
Sabahi added that following the advice of International Monetary Fund and major economic institutions has proven unsuccessful and a socialist economy would be the best alternative.
He also called for independence from the "American-Israeli domination over Egypt," saying that it is the only way to achieve democracy and socialism in Egypt.
"The weakness of the Egyptian state paved the way for the United States and Israel to intervene in simple internal policies and decision-making," Sabahi said.
The aim, according to Sabahi, is to keep Egypt underdeveloped to prevent it from performing its strategic role in the region and to put off any efforts for pan-Arab unity in which Egypt would play an essential role.
Sabahi’s meeting with labor leaders is the third in a series entitled "Workers and Change Advocates" which connects workers with political figures calling for change.
Last week, Al-Ghad Party leader Ayman Nour defended liberal economic policies denying any contradiction with workers’ rights and criticized the National Democratic Party for the misapplication of the concept of liberal economy.
Earlier this month, Mohamed ElBaradei, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a reform advocate, told workers that democracy is the only way to guarantee equitable economic and social rights for workers, urging them to join the National Association for Change.
However, workers urged ElBaradei to advocate economic and social rights rather than democracy. They demanded that workers become the core of any future action for change instead of the "fake" political elite.
Sabahi told workers that his program includes demands for the right to form independent syndicates for workers and setting a minimum and maximum wages, between which the gap doesn’t exceed 18 percent.
He said that change would come through either a "spontaneous mass revolution" that would have catastrophic consequences, fair elections which is a "ruled out option," or through civil disobedience which requires huge effort and a high level of organization.
"Workers are the only social group capable of this organization and would be central to any political change in the country the way they have been throughout history," Sabahi said.