Analysts slam attempt to unite revolutionary powers prior to presidential elections

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By Heba Hesham

CAIRO: Analysts were reluctant to praise an initiative by politicians and public figures that attempt to bring together the revolutionaries around the main goals of the Jan. 25 revolution only weeks before the registration for the presidential elections begins.

An initiative that comprises politicians, activists and faculty professors with varying ages, decided on a number of criteria for selecting the president and his vice it will support in the upcoming elections.

The “Presidential Project Committee,” also dubbed “The committee of the 100,” gathered to choose a presidential hopeful to support along with two other hopefuls they are hoping to convince to run as vice presidents.

“The support of political powers to certain candidates doesn’t necessarily mean that people will follow their decision. The logic of electing a president is different from that of electing a parliament because a president should be able to create a political balance not to follow a certain majority,” Nabil Abdel Fattah, an analyst at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, previously told Daily News Egypt.

Registration for the presidential elections will start on March 10.

Gamal Fahmy, outspoken analyst and board member of the Journalists’ Syndicate, described these initiatives as the “last minute attempts to bridge a critical loophole that threatens the revolution.”

“They are trying to save what can be rescued from the transitional period, but I believe this will be in vain. The revolutionary powers lack the ability to adhere to the common ground and adjourn contrasts for a long time,” he said.

Although members of the committee have not yet agreed on the presidential hopeful they will support, the committee’s meeting on Saturday agreed to form a delegation to meet with candidates Hamdeen Sabahi and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh among others to get their initial approval of the idea.

“We focused on Abol Fotoh and Sabahi because they fought for long for the revolution and their programs are well organized,” said Samir Eleish, general secretary of the National Center to Support Non-Governmental Organizations and member of the committee.

The criteria they set will later be applied on all the candidates to decide which one they will support and convince the other to run as vice president.

Among these criteria, according to Eleish, is the extent to which these hopefuls believe in the revolution, their determination to meet its demands and standing against polarization to any religious or political mainstream.

“We will not oblige people to vote for the candidate we will support. Instead, we are trying to be a collective conscience that demonstrates the way by recommending the candidate who will pursue the course of the revolution,” he added.

Eleish criticized Ahmed Shafiq, presidential hopeful who was former minister of civil aviation and the last prime minister appointed by Mubarak, saying that it is illogical that a number of presidential hopefuls announced they will join the presidential race although they belong to the toppled regime.

“This provoked us to form the committee so that the revolutionary powers unite once again,” he said. “We felt that certain people are running for president to fragment the votes to block the road for serious revolutionary candidates.”

Eleish stressed that the committee is not trying to impose their guardianship on the people.

“We don’t have an authority like the military council or the Muslim Brotherhood to compel people to approve a consensus on a particular candidate,” he said.

Nabil El-Arabi’s name was recently suggested as a possible candidate that would be backed by both the military council and the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the Secretary General of the Arab League denied any intentions to run.

Whether or not the candidate the initiative will support was elected president, the committee’s members said they will work as a scientific standpoint that directs the presidential institution towards the demands of the revolution and criticize it if it failed to satisfy the people in order to fortify the president’s performance.

Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who withdrew from the race on Jan. 14 in protest of the military council’s mismanagement of the transition period, called upon a group of 50 activists to discuss the formation of an entity that gathers revolutionary powers.

“We reached initial agreements such as forming a coordination group and a revolutionary document that will guide us in the coming period and it might be the root for a political party that we might establish whenever needed,” said Khaled Tellima, member of the Revolution Youth Coalition and one of the “Group of 50.”

Tellima said that although they did not decide to support a specific candidate in the upcoming elections, a number of the attendees tried to convince ElBaradei to re-nominate himself for presidency.

“I will not go back on my decision [to withdraw] and cheat people by becoming a president without authorities and I won’t compromise my conscience for people’s satisfaction,” ElBaradei said Saturday in a televised interview.

Moreover, Tellima praised the vision of the “Committee of the 100,” but stressed that it is important for them not to force any candidate to waive for another and allow each one to have the right to run for the position he wants; either president or vice president.



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