Sawiris launches new Free Egyptians Party

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CAIRO: Business tycoon Naguib Sawiris announced Sunday the establishment of the "Free Egyptians Party" as a new liberal party that promotes the principles of a civil state and where youth play a major role.

Sawiris said that referendum results showed indications of what political powers may prevail in the upcoming period and that his "non-Coptic" party aims to compete with them.

"We are about to enter a battle with political groups that have been active for 80 years and we only have five months to prepare for the legislative elections; if we don’t move now we will see what happened during the referendum again," Sawiris said in the press conference held at Al-Gezira Youth Center.

"The anticipated parliament will draft Egypt’s permanent constitution and if people who don’t believe in democracy win, it will be the end," he added.

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and other Islamic political streams supported the constitutional amendments during the referendum and strongly campaigned for a yes vote.

Seventy-seven percent out of 18 million voters said yes to the amendments, which analysts said is an indication of the power of the religious stream.

However, Sawiris said that the majority of the party’s members are Muslims and that he told Copts who wished to join to bring two Muslims with them.

"I want the party to be a mirror of the Egyptian society that reflects its social fabric and its streams," he said.

The party’s basic principles include promoting democracy, civil freedoms, equality, freedom of religion within a civil state, separation between the three main authorities – legislative, judicial and executive – and promoting the role of youth in building the future.

It also aims at developing Egypt into a country whose citizens enjoy equal rights regardless of religion, race or social class and achieving economic development based on a free economy that puts social justice as its priority within a state of institutions and rule of law.

The party calls for a new constitution which states that Islam is the religion of the state and guarantees freedom of religion and the right to apply laws governing personal affairs according to one’s religious belief.

"I don’t want to do anything on my own nor do I want people to join my party specifically, I just want people to be positive and participate in public life before it’s too late," Sawiris said.

He said that he doesn’t wish to be the party’s president and that only the general assembly will choose the president.

"We want to attract those who aren’t members of any political party and want to voice their opinions as well as those of the wide sectors that refused to participate in politics which will benefit public life in Egypt," said Mohamed Salmawy, prominent writer and novelist and one of the party’s founders.

The party held its first meeting last week, attended by 100 founders, in which they agreed on the primary basic principles and the party’s name.

"We will put the party’s complete electoral program after the general assembly reaches 5,000 founding members," Salmawy said.

Founders first suggested the name "Egyptian Brotherhood" as the party’s name but was rejected as not to spark a conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood and agreed on the Free Egyptians Party from between 20 suggested names.

The party, currently having 43 branches, is funded by donations of its members; however, a resource development committee was formed of businessmen to fund the party in its initial stage.

The party’s first public events will be held in Sohag, Luxor and Aswan starting next Wednesday.


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