CAIRO: The Democratic Alliance, a coalition of 34 political parties, threatened to boycott the November parliamentary elections in a meeting held late Wednesday, if its demands aren’t met by Sunday.
"This will put direct pressure on the military council to heed our demands," Ahmed Abu Baraka, leading figure in the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) told Daily News Egypt following the meeting.
However, head of Al-Wafd Party, El-Sayed El-Badawy told reporters that boycotting the elections wasn’t merely a "threat" or "an attempt to pressure" the military council, but it was "a reality" that would be implemented if the military council did not meet their demands by Sunday.
The alliance demanded that Article 5 of the People’s Assembly and Shoura Council law be amended to allow the candidacy of political party members a individual candidates, not only through party lists. They also demanded the implementation of a political exclusion law that would ban remnants of the fallen regime from political participation for 10 years.
"These are our top demands that have to be implemented in order to prevent former National Democratic Party members from taking over parliament," leading member of FJP and former MP, Mohamed El-Beltagi told DNE.
El-Beltagi pointed out that this law was different form the treachery act which is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
"The exclusion law prevents certain figures affiliated with the fallen regime from participating in the political arena without going through the long process of criminal courts," he said.
However, under the treachery act, criminal courts have the final say on whether or not to implement a ban on political participation. The act — which was originally drafted in 1952 following the military coup — strips officials proven guilty of political corruption of their right to practice politics for five years.
The alliance also called on SCAF to set a specific timeline to hand over power to civilians by a date no later than June 2012, in addition to ending the state of emergency, which they believe has already been terminated, according to the constitutional decree issued by SCAF on March 30.
The decree stipulated that the state of emergency would be lifted before the parliamentary elections, slated for Nov.28. However earlier this month the military council said the law would be extended until June 2012, raising wide criticism from human rights organizations and political powers, deeming it illegal.
Political parties belonging to the alliance also expressed their "astonishment" at SCAF’s decision to increase the share of the closed party lists system from 50 percent to two-thirds of the seats, while maintaining one-third of the seats for the individual candidates system, saying that this didn’t reflect the demands of all political powers.
The parties had called for exclusively following an open party list system in the elections, instead of a combination between the individual candidates’ system and the closed party lists, describing it as the "best system" for electing a parliament "qualified to fill the historical role awaiting it."
The open party list would give voters more freedom in electing their chosen candidate from each party, instead of abiding by the order of a specific list of candidates, set by each party in the closed party list system.
The demands were presented to SCAF on Thursday morning. The Alliance arranged to have a meeting on Sunday to discuss their next step, depending on SCAF’s reaction to their calls.
On the other hand, the Egyptian Bloc which includes 15 liberal and leftist political parties and groups including the Free Egyptians and Al-Tagammu parties said that they have not considered boycotting the elections yet.
"We discussed other methods to pressure SCAF, but boycotting the elections wasn’t one of them," Mohamed Hamed, member of the political bureau of the Free Egyptians Party said.
"However, if SCAF continues to ignore our demands after Friday’s protests and other parties are considering boycotting the elections, we might join them," he added.
The Egyptian Bloc said that it will participate in mass protests on Friday dubbed "Reclaiming the Revolution."
El-Beltagi, however, said that FJP still hadn’t decided whether or not to participate in the protests, adding that each member of the Alliance would decide independently.
Over 35 political powers announced their participation in the mass protests on Friday including several members of the Democratic Alliance like Al-Wafd, Al-Wasat, Al-Ghad, Al-Asala, formerly known as Al-Fadila, and Al-Karama parties.
The Democratic Alliance, spearheaded by Al-Wafd and the Muslim Brotherhood’s FJP, comprises 34 parties from the left and far right, bringing together proclaimed liberals and Islamists.
It includes Nasserist, Al-Geel, Al-Ahrar and the Egyptian Arab Socialist parties, as well as the Salafi Al-Nour, and Al-Tawheed Al-Araby parties.