CAIRO: Al-Wafd Party has decided to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in November, sparking divisions among Egypt’s opposition groups.
In a general assembly meeting held on Friday by Al-Wafd Party, 56.7 percent voted for entering the People’s Assembly (PA) elections, while 43 percent voted against it.
“The general assembly made its decision based on the opinion of the majority of Al-Wafd Party members — it was a very close vote though, a large percentage of the party members voted to boycott the elections, which shows that there’s anger towards the government and the ruling party and that we know these elections won’t be fair,” Mohamed Moustafa Shardy, Al-Wafd MP, told Daily News Egypt.
“We realize we are not participating in a democratic environment and we are not letting go of our demands for change, but what does it say when we call on people to vote for their future, while we sit at home and boycott the elections,” he added.
Former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has lead a call for boycotting the elections through the National Association for Change if his demands for change and democracy are not met by the government.
These demands include an end to the emergency law, judicial oversight and independent monitoring of elections in a bid to guarantee transparent and free elections.
“We have always supported the idea that all opposition groups should boycott the elections, so the move would be effective and embarrass the government that claims to be democratic and diverse political parties,” Karima Al-Hifnawy, member of the National Association for Change and the Kefaya opposition movement, told Daily News Egypt.
“We refuse to participate in the charade called elections and forge the will of the people to accommodate the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), that’s our opinion, but we can’t force it on others,” she added.
Shardy disagreed, however, saying that “all those who have called for boycotting the elections are either groups or NGOs, no political parties have made that demand, and that’s because the main difference between a political party and an NGO is that a party participates in the elections, whether it is parliamentary or presidential.”
The spokesman of the MB parliamentary bloc, Hamdy Hassan, told Daily News Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood is more likely to enter the race for seats in the PA.
“We said before that if all the opposition parties decided to boycott the [PA] elections, then we would as well so the boycott is effective, but there have been divisions among opposition powers,” he said.
“Boycotting the elections isn’t in the people’s best interest now, boycotting only succeeds in pressuring a democratic regime that respects opposition powers, but the current government will be exhilarated if we boycott the elections so it can win the majority of seats without even a fight,” he added.
MB members ran as independent candidates in 2005 and won 88 seats, representing the largest opposition group in the PA.
On the other hand, head of Al-Ghad Party, Ayman Nour supported the boycott.
“Participating in the coming elections means participating in its forgery and accepting its results, we will not enter elections without guarantees of its transparency and integrity,” Nour told Daily News Egypt.
Earlier last week Al-Ghad opposition party decided to boycott the elections, though Nour did not rule out the possibility of members running as independents.
“We abided by the decision of the National Association for Change and with what we believe is in the people’s best interest,” Nour said.
“However Article 64 of the constitution gives citizens the right to run in the elections, so if any of our members run, they will run as independents without the party’s support, but we will not expel them from the party for practicing their constitutional right,” he added.
Shardy believes that the coming PA elections won’t see that much forgery, however it will see “a lot of confrontation, money and blood.”