CAIRO: As most opposition movements and groups prepared for a “general day of anger today, notable public figures gathered at the headquarters of Al Karama party on Saturday to initiate the new Egyptian Coalition for Change.
Joining the new group were novelists Sonallah Ibrahim and Alaa Al Aswany, head of the freedoms committee at the Journalists Syndicate Mohamed Abdel Quddous, actor and activist Abdel Aziz Makhiyoon and member of the Kefaya Movement for Change Abdel-Halim Qandil.
The coalition is not completely formed as of yet, but most opposition factions have joined, including individuals from the Muslim Brotherhood. The coalition is after collecting massive amounts of signatures, not only from organized political groups, but also regular masses, in support of their cause.
“This manifesto is a call to all Egyptians, read the coalition s opening statement.
The manifesto calls for a peaceful transfer of power, followed by a two-year transitional period during which Egypt would be ruled by a coalition government and a president not affiliated to a specific party. A new constitution would be drafted by an elected committee.
It also calls for ending the emergency law, the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, respecting press freedom, the freedom to form political parties and labor syndicates, and supports workers rights to hold peaceful protests and strikes.
The manifesto also highlights the importance of the independence of the judiciary, which must be allowed to monitor elections and referendums freely.
Regarding Egypt s relations with Israel, the group suggested the cancellation of the Camp David Accords following a national referendum as well as halting the export of gas to Israel.
The declaration comes amid heavy security pressures to impede today s general organized called by the April 6 movement on the first anniversary of the April 6 violent demonstration that took place in Mahalla last year.
According to April 6 members present at Saturday’s press conference, 13 students have been arrested the same day, six of them detained in the Delta governorate of Kafr El Sheikh, while protesting the arrest and 15-day detention of two female students on Thursday. (Detailed story on Page 2)
The Hisham Mubarak Law Center has reported that 43 members of the group were arrested on Saturday for protesting to free their colleagues.
“The regime must know that women are a red line that must not be crossed, said member Ahmed Samir at the conference. “We say to the regime: we will not forget your crimes against us. “We waited for a long time to be here. Now the efforts of years of protests are embodied in a clear vision full of hope and optimism. Not long ago we asked each other ‘who s next, someone from the army or an Islamist?’ now we ask who will we bring, said Sonallah Ibrahim.
Qandil, former editor-in-chief of the opposition paper Sout Al-Omah, dedicated the day to the memory of late thinker and Kefaya coordinator Abdel Wahab El Messeiri.
“Every day in Egypt is April 6. Every day is a day of anger, he added.
He emphasized, however, that the new coalition was not part of Kefaya, but vice versa. “Kefaya is a small patriotic movement within the coalition, he said.
Novelist and staunch regime critic Al-Aswany supported the merging of a new generation of activists, namely the April 6 group, with the old. “I am proud that these young people are taking a stand against one of the strongest oppressive regimes in the world, he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood has not officially joined the coalition, but talks are currently underway with the popular opposition group. A number of individual Brotherhood members have endorsed the manifesto of the new coalition.