By Heba Hesham
CAIRO: The General Union of Police Personnel and Conscripts announced Tuesday that members of the union will start a sit-in and a nation-wide strike on March 22 to object to the fact that the Interior Ministry has ignored their demands.
“We decided to call for a general strike in all provinces after we found out that our negotiations with the ministry over the past few months were just chit-chat. We have exhausted all legitimate and legal means, including the submission of a memorandum to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Interior and the People’s Assembly,” Ahmed El-Halabawy, general coordinator of the Union, said in a statement.
Documents explaining the rights of police personnel that were approved by the ministry but were not carried out were attached to the memo, he added.
Members of the union were then surprised by their exclusion from the committees set up to restructure the interior ministry and amend the police law.
“These committees included police officers only and ignored junior personnel and conscripts,” El-Halabawy said in the statement.
The General Coalition for Police Officers, on the other hand, refused calls for a general strike particularly at a time where there is a security vacuum.
“We are against sit-ins or strikes by police. However, we agree with their demand that they should be represented in the restructuring committees so as not to be superseded or harmed by its decisions,” said coalition member, Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Meshaly.
Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim recently announced the formation of a special commission, headed by his top aide, who is also head of the Supreme Council of the Police Force, to restructure the ministry in accordance with the current security situation.
Outspoken MP Amr Hamzawy told parliament this month that the interior minister, who was repeatedly criticized in the People’s Assembly, has not submitted a plan for restructuring the ministry. Hamzawy indicated that the minister had failed to honor his promise to do so.
Hamzawy pointed out that Ibrahim had asked the PA to grant him enough time to provide a complete plan that would ensure the exclusion of ex-minister El-Adly’s loyalists and eliminate corruption.
The minister, however, slammed in his statement calls by some MPs and political groups to “purge” the ministry of senior corrupt officers who worked with El-Adly, now facing charges of complicity in killing protesters during the January uprising, saying that the ministry refuses the word “purging”, which he sees as an insult.
“The minister has been giving contradictory statements from the first day he took office,” Meshaly said.
The revolutionary police officer said that the minister previously said that there is no such thing as “El-Adly’s men” in the ministry “although he himself is one of them.”
“He also used to say that he doesn’t recognize the word ‘purging’, even though he was the one who started talking about restructuring the ministry after the Port Said massacre,” Meshaly said, adding that if the minister does not acknowledge the corruption in the ministry, he will not be able to reform it.
The officer said that the minister’s denial that he is aware of the existence of restructuring plans and lists of corrupt officers’ names reflects his refusal to meet the coalition’s members or hear their proposals.
“He cannot communicate with young officers. A number of officers are being carefully selected to meet him,” Meshaly added.
Mahmoud Ghozlan, spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood whose political arm controls 43 percent of the PA, said the group has already set a plan to restructure the interior ministry.
“This plan is based on general principles, the first of which is to refer the senior officers who were involved in corruption to retirement, and to employ lower ranks to assist the minister instead,” he told the Kuwaiti Al-Garida newspaper.