CAIRO: Members of Egypt’s former ruling party have demanded to be allowed to run in upcoming elections, as officials mull a draft law that could see them banished from politics for a decade.
The plea came during a rally organized on Saturday evening by members of the now dissolved National Democratic Party — which was headed by ousted president Hosni Mubarak — in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya, participants told AFP.
"The honorable January 25 revolution… cannot be owned, it belongs to all the Egyptian people," former minister of social solidarity, Ali Moselhi, told the 5,000-strong crowd.
"The revolution aimed to bring about freedom, dignity, democracy and social justice, not to promote some parties and exclude others, or restore dictatorship in any of its forms," Moselhi said.
Activists who participated in protests that toppled Mubarak in February have launched a strong campaign to ban all members of the old regime from running for public office.
On Saturday, Egypt’s ruling military amended an election law to allow parties to contest all of parliament’s seats in a concession to parties who had threatened to boycott, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
The military, in charge since Mubarak’s overthrow, also amended a separate political rights law to impose jail terms for campaigners using religious slogans or bribery and violence to sway voters.
But parties and activists also insist on activating a law that prevents corrupt politicians and former regime members from running for office for 10 years.
Under Mubarak, ruling party members resorted to bribes and hiring thugs to influence the results.
The three-round parliamentary election, which kicks off on November 28, will be the first since Mubarak’s resignation on February 11.
At the rally, Moselhi said former NDP members "should not be stripped of their rights."
"Freedom should be absolute… we cannot talk of exclusion or discrimination and claim to be building (a state) of freedom and dignity," Moselhi said.
Mohamed Sheta, a former member of the Shoura Council — the upper house of parliament — said he challenged anyone involved in political life to say they did not work or co-exist with the dissolved NDP.
"This is not a stain, many members of the party criticized the decisions of the leadership," Sheta said.
In April, an Egyptian court dissolved the NDP and ordered its funds and property be handed over to the government.
Several former ministers and businessmen associated with the party are currently in jail or being investigated for corruption.
Others have kept a low profile since Mubarak was ousted.
The former president himself is in custody, facing trial for killing protesters during the uprising and corruption.