The Egyptian National Salvation Front (NSF), which includes the main opposition forces, announced that it is in the process of launching a massive campaign to collect signatures — primarily aimed at showing the size of popular sympathy with its decision to boycott legislative elections, scheduled to start on April 22. Meanwhile, the NSF stressed that the Salafist movement will not act as a single man in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
For his part, Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that "Egypt and its national security are a top priority" for the army. Sisi's comments came in response to growing calls for the army to intervene and show that the Egyptian army will remain in control for a while and that it will only intervene to prevent the country from sliding into chaos and civil strife.
In a speech delivered yesterday [Feb. 28] during a military graduation ceremony, Sisi pledged "that the military will preserve the oath of allegiance and sacrifice for the homeland and put Egypt and its national security above anything else, while continuing to develop its potential and capabilities. This will allow it to remain a modern force capable of fulfilling its holy tasks to protect the Egyptian people."
He stressed that "Egypt and its national security are a top priority for the Armed Forces, which pledge to produce faithful and brave men who are capable of taking responsibility, who have faith in God, and who are devoted to the homeland."
The Building and Development party announced yesterday that the political arm of the Islamist group is in the process of announcing an electoral alliance including fundamentalist parties, namely Al-Asala, Al-Watan and Al-Raya [the Flag Party]. The latter is led by the controversial Salafist lawyer Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. This means that the legislative elections will witness a clash between the Salafist movement, after Al-Nour Party — the largest Salafist group — said it will run for the elections independently and will run candidates for all 546 parliamentary seats. This is in the interest of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, especially after the opposition front announced it would boycott the elections.
The head of the political bureau of the Building and Development Party, Safwat Abdel Ghani, said his party will lead the Salafist Alliance and that it would neither include the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) — the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood — nor the Salafist Al-Nour Party, which will run candidates for 100% of the seats. Abdul Ghani said the Salafist Al-Nour Party, which came second in the last year’s parliamentary elections, will not be able to "achieve the same returns in the coming elections." He added that his party will win 30% of seats in the House of Representatives, and thus come in second, after the FJP.
The Vice President of the ruling Al-Watan party, Dr. Yusri Hammad, said there his party is engaged in ongoing consultations with the Building and Development party, and said that a complete consensus has been practically reached during the dialogue sessions. He further explained that they agreed not to talk about the quotas of each party, but would rather discuss having a good selection of competencies that represent the coalition parties and satisfy public demand. This means having a parliament full of expertise and skilled MPs, unlike the previous parliament.
Hammad said that a meeting was held two days ago with Abu Ismail, founder of Al-Raya Party, and that they agreed on a number of points. These included ensuring the selection of skilled candidates, as well as the development of a program that includes legislation and that deals with the lives of Egyptians, eliminates corruption and serves the interest of the Egyptian people. He added that this agreement between the two parties should remain in the next parliament.
On the other hand, Dr. Waheed Abdel Meguid, a leader in the NSF, announced that the NSF will launch a number of massive campaigns, including a campaign to collect signatures to urge people to boycott the elections. Meguid stressed that the NSF “does not want to contribute in giving legitimacy to a totalitarian regime, in light of [the regime’s] hegemony, murder and torture campaigns.” He added that in the coming period and until the end of June, the NSF will launch a popular campaign centered on explaining how the elections are set to take place under an unjust political equation, and that the results have been determined in advance to empower the authoritarian regime.
He added that the NSF will launch a campaign to collect signatures in all governorates urging citizens to boycott the elections. The front will try to activate a popular movement in the street by all means available, hold a series of public conferences, and replace the election propaganda by calls to boycott.
Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil reduced the role of the government in overseeing legislative elections, in the face of demands by the opposition and the Salafist Al-Nour Party to form a neutral government.
Qandil said yesterday [Feb 28]: “The Supreme Electoral Commission is fully responsible for conducting parliamentary elections. The role of government is intrinsic in the elections, but it is [limited] to providing logistic support.” He pointed out that this support was already provided by the government during the constitutional referendum, and emphasized that the government is keen to hold free and fair parliamentary elections, in a way that befits the first elections in Egypt following the new constitution.
In the meantime, Mohammed Badie, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, called on Egyptians “to exhibit ethical attitudes, preserve love, affection and unity among us as Muslims, and to engage in dialogue for the sake of the country and its preeminence.” In his weekly message delivered yesterday, Badie called on his followers “to abandon radicalism, not to question [others’] intentions, and to strive for the truth, which requires us to purify our conscience.”
He stressed the need to resort to peaceful means, renounce all types of violence and bullying, and push the conflicting parties to stop spreading rumors. He also called on Egyptians not to fabricate lies and falsely accuse each other of lies, libel and slander.
In the meantime, the Illegal-Gains Authority — headed by Yahya Jalal, assistant to the minister of justice — submitted a request to the attorney general to appeal the judgment of the criminal court dated Jan. 5, 2012, before the court of cassation. The judgment found former Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni innocent on charges of making illegal gains that amounted to 9,000,813 Egyptian Pounds [$1.33 million].
A report issued by the State Commissioners Authority said that the Administrative Court of the State Council issued a ruling stipulating that the courts of the State Council have no authority to examine the cases. It demanded that Ahmad al-Zanad, head of the Judges Club, refrain from appearing in the media and talking about lawyers and judicial affairs and abstain from submitting any draft law to add any amendments to the Judicial Authority Law.
Two lawyers filed the lawsuit before the administrative court of the State Council, in which they said that Zanad had interfered in everything pertaining to the judges, especially involving issues that arise between judges and lawyers. They said that this contravenes the law of the judicial authority, and that he is giving himself the right granted to the Supreme Judicial Council to talk and deal with the third party.