By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: Al-Wafd opposition party announced that it will continue its decision to run in the parliamentary elections, thereby ending speculations about a possible withdrawal from the elections in protest of what party officials have described as unfair treatment.
Al-Wafd’s decision came after the Ministry of Information finally approved the party’s previously rejected TV promotional campaign.
In a telephone interview to Mehwar TV’s daily talk show “90 Minutes” on Saturday, Al-Wafd Secretary General Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said that the executive bureau of the party had convened for four hours prior to announcing its decision to participate in the elections.
“We have four advertisements, two of which have already been broadcasted since Thursday,” Abdel Nour told Daily News Egypt.
Abdel Nour said that the advertisements that have already been broadcast don’t promote Al-Wafd candidates in the upcoming general elections. They instead “encourage people to participate in the political arena and [to] join political parties in general — not Al-Wafd specifically.”
“One [advertisement] still needs certain approvals, and the fourth [advertisement] can’t be broadcasted until [mid-November] after the candidates are officially announced,” Abdel Nour said.
The Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) approved a resolution that defines the official campaign period as starting on the day the final candidates are officially announced (Nov. 12–14) and ending the day before the elections Nov. 27).
Last week, the party threatened to boycott the elections after the Egyptian Radio and Television Union rejected Al-Wafd’s request to broadcast the party’s paid promotional television campaign.
One day later, Minister of Information Anas El-Fiqqi delivered a statement stating that there are no bans on the promotional campaigns of political parties, but that they must first be approved by the SEC.
Abdel Nour said that Al-Wafd took on the responsibility to present Egyptian citizens with an alternative to the ruling National Democratic Party.
However, Al-Wafd’s participation doesn’t reflect its trust in the transparency and fairness of the elections, Abdel Nour added.
“Broadcasting our advertisements has definitely calmed many members of [Al-Wafd], but there [are] still [party] members who are angry,” Al-Wafd MP Mohamed Moustafa Sherdy told Daily News Egypt.
“But we have promised the people to face any [obstacles] thrown at us by the government,” Sherdy added.
Al-Wafd’s executive bureau has also based its decision to continue to run in the elections on a recent government announcement that citizens will be allowed to vote using their national ID cards. The government previously suggested that citizens would need possession of a special electoral card in order to vote; a card that could have proven difficult for many citizens to obtain.
According to Sherdy, the government also agreed to bestow power of attorney rights to the representatives of each candidate two days before the elections. Candidates’ representatives are assigned to observe the ballot and to assist their respective candidate.
“We used to [have to] run around [trying to contact various officials] during the elections trying to get these authorizations,” Sherdy said.