Wrote :Salma Shukrallah
The National Front for Protecting the Revolution expressed frustration Saturday regarding how Egypt’s new president Mohamed Morsi is meeting his promises.
The body – consisting of several prominent political figures – was formed on 22 June to support Morsi during the presidential elections. At the time, many believed that there was a real threat of vote rigging in favour of his rival Ahmed Shafiq, a former aviation minister in the Mubarak regime.
At a press conference, held almost one month after their declaration to support the man they described as the “revolution's candidate,” the group complained that now President Morsi is not taking the steps he pledged return for their support.
“Despite our differences with the [Muslim] Brotherhood, we agreed to forgive what has happened in the past in order to continue with the revolution," said prominent media figure Hamdi Qandeel.
At a meeting held days before Morsi was announced the presidential winner, six demands were presented to the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in return for their support for the candidate. At a press conference that Morsi attended, the then presidential hopeful announced his agreement with the principles outlined, and promised to abide by them if elected.
The National Front is made up of prominent writer Alaa El-Aswany, columnist Wael Qandeel, nationalist opposition figure Hamdi Qandeel, media figure Sekina Fouad, academic and political figure Heba Raouf, activist Wael Khalil, activist Wael Ghoneim, NAC founder Abdel-Gelil Mostafa, independent activist Ahmed Imam, political thinker Hassan Nafaa, the April 6 Youth Movement, the Egyptian Current Party as well as Brotherhood member Mohamed El-Beltagy, among others.
According to a statement released Saturday by the National Front for Protecting the Revolution, the agreed-upon points included for Morsi to:
- Abide by the principle of national cooperation and the uniting national project expressing the revolution’s demands and representing all of society, including women, Copts and youths.
- Form a Cabinet and a presidential team that is representative of all the political factions and one that is headed by an independent national figure.
- Form a crisis management group composed of several National Front members to assist the president during the transition process until a complete handover of power is accomplished.
- Complete refusal of the addendum to the Constitutional Declaration reducing the presidential authorities as well as the decision of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to dissolve parliament.
- Seek a more balanced and representative Constitutional Declaration that would help guarantee the drafting of a permanent constitution for all Egyptians.
- Abide by complete transparency with the people regarding any changes and developments.
At the press conference on Saturday, the group said it was remineding Morsi of his promises, revealing that the new president has so far not been engaged with the political group as had been planned, but has been making decisions in an isolated and non-transparent manner.
Several members did not make it to Saturday’s conference, including Khalil, El-Aswany, Nafaa, April 6 Movement's Ahmed Maher and El-Beltagy. All apart from El-Baltagy had apologise, The absence of the Brotherhood’s representative could not be explained by the attendees.
To follow up on the most urgent matters faced by the president, the National Front said it had also formed several committees; one to propose names for Cabinet membership and the presidential team, another to follow up on military prisoners and a third one to oversee the reshuffle of the Constituent Assembly promised one month earlier by Morsi.
Raouf, however, expressed frustration that their views were largely ignored. While they had been told the new Cabinet would be a political coalition government, members of the National Front were surprised to see that the president had chosen a technocrat for the position of prime minister, explained Raouf, adding that they had been researching and proposing names based on a completely different criteria.
“If the new PM is a technocrat then so should be the ministers. However, the names proposed so far for ministerial positions reveal a bias towards a specific political party," Raouf complained.
The current constituent assembly accused of being dominated by Islamists has raised the concerns of several political figures that the new government will be as unequally representative. The choice of the new PM Hisham Qandil has intensified such fears because he is seen as affiliated to the islamist camp.
Regarding the Constituent Assembly, member of the National Front and co-founder of the National Association for Change (NAC) Abdel-Gelil Mostafa underlined that nothing has changed in its formation despite previous assurances.
The plan had been to replace several Islamist members of the constitution drafting body with either those who have withdrawn from the leftist and the liberal camps, or from independent candidates who have been chosen as substitutes, making it more representatives, explained Mostafa.
Former Brotherhood member and founder of the Egyptian Current Party, Islam Lotfi, also explained that information regarding the status of military prisoners was kept far from reach by the General Security apparatus.
Furthermore, Morsi has ignored initiatives proposed by the group to reform state institutions and purge them of corrupt figures, explained Raouf, adding: “The state system has been structured to allow corruption. We cannot achieve renaissance without initiatives that aim at changing state institutions.”
Meanwhile, the National Front itself has been criticised by many activists for portraying Morsi as the revolution’s candidate. The Muslim Brotherhood has itself come under harsh attacks for months under harsh the wider revolutionary movement, which accuse it of selling out the 2011 uprising to get into power. “Sell the revolution, Badie [the Muslim Brotherhood's supreme guide]!” is a chant still heard at anti-military rule demonstrations.
Revolutionaries were not alone in distancing themselves from the new president.
Following disagreement over the Constituent Assembly, several parties – including the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the liberal Wafd Party – also announced their unwillingness to accept positions in the new Brotherhood government.
Activist Wael Ghoneim, on the other hand, stressed at the conference that the National Front’s announcement regarding Morsi’s lack of progress in meeting their demands should not be viewed as a threat to Morsi, but rather as a form of continuing support for the new president.
“When support is made public, so should criticism. Politics requires transparency,” said Raouf.
Sekina Fouad further explained the group’s decision to warn the president, saying that if the people were not engaged in the political decision-making process Morsi would not be able to fight the old regime.