Egypt’s secular opposition is calling for protests in front of the Shura Council building as soon as the upper house of parliament begins discussions over amendments to the judiciary law.
In a Monday press conference leading figures within the National Salvation Front (NSF), the largest secular opposition coalition, said they would not stand for an attack on the country’s judiciary.
The Islamist-dominated Shura Council is scheduled to discuss a new judiciary bill that would lower the retirement age for judges and consequently create many judicial vacancies, a process NSF leaders say is intended so that the regime could install its supporters and more easily forge election results.
NSF leaders called the law a “fierce attack on judges”, and said it was “designed to help forge elections”, adding that they would send representatives to the Judges’ Club press conference being held simultaneously as a show of support.
“We call for peaceful protests in front of the Shura Council as soon as it starts discussing the judiciary law and we call not just on [secular] forces but on all democratic forces,” Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby and NSF leader Hamdeen Sabahy told journalists.
The former presidential candidate urged revolutionary youth to ally with NSF politicians and announced the front would hold a series of meetings with revolutionary young people.
NSF leaders also dismissed claims of an internal rift over the front’s position on boycotting the upcoming parliamentary elections for the House of Representatives.
Opposition members had long declared they would boycott elections of the lower house of parliament unless a set of five demands guaranteeing electoral fairness is met.
“We are still boycotting and will continue to do so until our demands are met, there are no internal divisions and we all agree that we will not participate in a sham democracy,” NSF and Al-Dostour Party leader Mohamed ElBaradei said.
The Nobel laureate reiterated the opposition’s demands of a new, politically neutral government; appointment of a new prosecutor general; and a fair elections law.
If these initial three demands are met NSF will be willing to enter into national dialogue with President Mohamed Morsi and discuss their other demands of a constitutional review committee to amend the constitution and the formation of committees for transitional justice and national reconciliation.
When asked by reporters if the imminent cabinet reshuffle would count as meeting one of their demands, ElBaradei said the opposition is calling for a completely new government with a new prime minister and new ministers for all critical portfolios, including the justice and interior ministries.
The three-term director of the International Atomic Energy Agency had earlier on Monday called on secular opposition representatives within the Shura Council to withdraw from the upper house if the council persists in discussing the judiciary law.