Disbanding NDP is a strike to restructure endeavors, says analyst

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CAIRO: Disbanding former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) was a big strike to the endeavors of some members to give it a new shape relatively different from the old one, political analyst Nabil Abdel-Fatah told Daily News Egypt on Sunday.

“These members have lost the possibility of making use of the party’s valuable infrastructure available everywhere across the country,” added Abdel-Fatah, deputy head of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

On Saturday, the Supreme Administrative Court had ordered the dissolving of the NDP, meeting a major demand of Egypt’s opposition forces and activists.

Judge Magdy El-Agaty also ordered the liquidation of the party’s assets and buildings and handing them over to the state.

The verdict may have ended the political aspirations of the NDP founder’s nephew, lawyer and former MP Talaat Al-Sadat, elected president of the 2-million member party on Monday.

Al-Sadat announced during a press conference two days later that the party, whose name was changed to the New National Party, would seek majority in the coming parliamentary elections due to be held in September.

“My brother, Talaat, will found a new political party based on the principles of our late uncle president Anwar Al-Sadat that would [probably] advocate liberal ideologies and democracy,” former NDP member and businessman Effat Al-Sadat told DNE.

The court pointed out in the verdict justifications that the revolution had ended the previous political system, forcing former president Hosni Mubarak, who led the party for three decades, to step down on Feb. 11, which necessitated disbanding the party to impose the people’s will.

“The verdict was a result of the public opinion’s pressure and the demands of the January 25 Revolution, which we should respect,” Effat Al-Sadat said.

The court further said that it was illogical that the regime fell while its tools remained, explaining that the party had no place after the revolution.

“This has been a constructive ruling. We further call for a similar one suspending local councils like the case with the two parliaments,” said Abdel-Halim Qandil, co-founder and ex-general coordinator of Egyptian Kefaya Movement for Change.

On Feb. 13, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had suspended the Shoura Council (the Upper-House of the Parliament) and the People’s Assembly (the Lower-House of the Parliament).

The verdict, which cannot be appealed, came a few days after Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, were remanded in custody for 15 days pending investigation into corruption charges and responsibility for killing and injuring peaceful protesters during the Jan. 25 nationwide protests and the following days.

However, opposition groups and activists still fear that despite Mubarak’s fall and the detention of many former top officials, the remnants of the NDP could still try to infiltrate the political scene.

Qandil, also editor-in-chief of weekly independent Sawt El-Omma newspaper, called on the SCAF to temporarily strip NDP members of the right to practice politics, vote or run for elections for five years to guarantee that they will have no impact on the Egyptian political life.

“This was the case with some politicians following the 1952 Revolution,” Qandil told DNE.

Such concerns raise a looming question about the future status of the NDP members.

“Many of the party members who belong to major families and tribes around Egypt … who only care about winning parliamentary seats, will [most likely] join other parties, establish new ones or even join the Muslim Brotherhood group,” Abdel-Fatah said.

Nevertheless, a number of former NDP members ruled out the possibility that the party would return under a new name.

NDP founding member Mohamed Abdellah said the verdict “exposed the fact that the party in its old structure no longer existed.”

Abdellah told DNE that he resigned from the party late February after he sensed that no real change could be achieved following the revolution, saying he will stop practicing politics.

“But the party calibers and youths still have the right to engage in political activities,” he said.

Like Abdellah, Effat Al-Sadat said he would quit politics for a while and dedicate more time to his business and family.

Former deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group in Egypt, speculated that “even if former NDP members establish a new party, they will fail to attract supporters.”

“Egyptians nationwide know them by name and realize how they have been the source of corruption and oppression in the country,” Mohamed Habib told DNE.

The party won majorities ranging from 75 percent to 95 percent in every parliamentary election starting 1979.

Opposition groups and parties have always accused the authorities of vote-rigging in favor of the NDP candidates.

Several violations were detected by human rights groups during the polls, none of which was seriously considered by authorities.

During the Jan. 28 protests, dubbed the “Friday of Anger,” protesters set the headquarters of the NDP on fire.

Since then, the destiny of the destroyed building located in the heart of Cairo has been vague.

Many called for turning it into a museum about the January 25 Revolution, others suggested the special location overlooking the Nile would be used for investment purposes.

On the other hand, some opposition forces and activists called for leaving the building in its current status to set an example for others not to commit similar political flaws.

Ahmed El-Saman, media advisor of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, said Saturday evening in a telephone interview with Dream 2 TV’s Al-Ashera Masa’an talk show that the premier decided to allocate the NDP premises in Giza to the National Council for Human Rights.

On Sundy, Sharaf said the NDP’s prominent headquarters will be allocated to specialized national councils.

Since it was first established by late president Al-Sadat in 1978, the NDP has monopolized the Egyptian political life, sweeping parliamentary elections.

Al-Sadat led the party till 1981 when Mubarak, then the vice-president, took over after Al-Sadat was assassinated.



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