By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: Speaker of Egypt’s Shoura Council and leading figure in the ruling National Democratic Party Safwat El-Sherif denied that any NDP officials left the country when the protests erupted on Jan. 25, at a press conference held Thursday at the NDP headquarters in downtown Cairo.
“These are all rumors,” he said. “The NDP doesn’t run.”
He added that the party has nothing to be ashamed of.
“The [National Democratic Party] respects the people’s right to free expression,” El-Sherif said.
“We also respect the youth’s commitment to express their opinions through peaceful methods. A party without youth is a party without a future.”
“We are always biased towards the people’s demands,” he added.
El-Sherif praised the youth’s stance in the protests on Jan. 25, saying that they presented a perfect example of how one should express his opinion freely.
However he added that certain people had infiltrated the protests to vandalize public property and incite chaos.
El-Sherif said that the NDP is aware of the problems plaguing Egyptian society, including unemployment price increases.
He added that the NDP had taken the necessary steps to address these problems and propose practical solutions to solve them.
He also cited the government’s achievements like subsidizing essential needs and protecting Egypt from the repercussions of the global financial crisis.
“The protests on Jan. 25 were a natural outcome of the freedom of expression Egyptians enjoy following political and constitutional reform implemented by President Mubarak.”
El-Sherif referred to the call for protests after Friday prayers today, saying that he hoped the people would pray in peace and resist any attempts to jeopardize their safety.
In a statement Thursday, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said his government is working to complete its program for economic, political and social development and that those who oppose the program should voice their opinions through legitimate means.
Nazif denied that the government blocked websites or telephone communications and that it respects the right of freedom of expression as long as it does not entail chaos.
“Security forces didn’t block the protests except in certain cases when protestors broke the law and threatened public safety,” Nazif said.
The NDP said in a statement that it did not allow its members and supporters to take to the streets in response to the protests, calling on them to accept other political views as long as they are expressed peacefully.
“The NDP is open for the youth’s demands and is adopting policies that aim to acheive those demands,” the statement read.
The People’s Assembly (PA) is set to discuss in its session on Sunday government policies regarding the distribution of subsidies, minimum wage, fighting poverty, supporting farmers and traffic problems.
The NDP’s Secretary General Safwat El-Sherif told Mehwar satellite channel that the government has direct orders to solve a number of important issues that affect the welfare and living conditions of the people.
“Peoples’ demands are most respected but be warned that some political groups with certain agendas are exploiting the events to their favor,” he said. –Additional reporting by Tamim Elyan.