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Egyptian political parties continue alliance-building - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Former foreign minister and presidential candidate Amr Moussa speaks during an interview with Reuters in Cairo March 11, 2014. (REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)

Former foreign minister and presidential candidate Amr Moussa speaks during an interview with Reuters in Cairo March 11, 2014. (REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egypt’s fractious political parties remain in a state of disarray ahead of parliamentary elections, according to political sources, despite a looming deadline on the announcement of the new polls.

One source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “Most political alliances in the forthcoming Egyptian parliamentary elections are in a state of confusion, and there is only one alliance which is clear on the ground.”

Parliamentary elections are the third and final part of the political roadmap that the army put forward in coordination with political parties after the ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013. A source at the parliamentary elections committee said: “An announcement is expected about the start of parliamentary election procedures before July 18, according to the timeframe stipulated by the new constitution.”

The constitution, which was ratified early this year, stipulated that the parliamentary elections should take place within a period of no longer than six months after the adoption of the new constitution.

Meanwhile, political parties have begun the process of forming alliances to compete for seats, with four electoral alliances announced so far.

However, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the alliances had yet to be finalized. In particular, they said that the Democratic Civil Movement, led by Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahy—President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s opponent in the recent presidential election—was contemplating a merger with another electoral alliance.

Yasser Hassan, a leading member of the Al-Wafd Party told Asharq Al-Awsat that Amr Moussa, who headed the committee that drafted Egypt’s new constitution, “will not be joining another alliance,” and that “the closest alliance to him was the Al-Wafd Al-Misry Alliance.”

Moussa had recently attempted to create a new political grouping to support Sisi in parliament, only to see it break apart after a few days, with many prospective coalition partners flocking to Al-Wafd, one of Egypt’s oldest political parties.

Meanwhile, the same sources added that the four parliamentary groupings taking shape were “first, the Al-Wafd Al-Misry alliance, which will include the parties of Al-Wafd, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Reform and Development Party and the Conservative Party.”

“The second alliance will include the leftist parties, while the third will include the Congress Party, the National Movement and the Rally, although the final form of the alliance has not been decided yet. The Free Egyptians Party [Al-Masryeen Al-Ahrar] has announced its intention to contest the elections alone,” they added.

Hassan said the only alliance that was fully formed was the Al-Wafd Al-Misry alliance, which included prominent figures such as constitutional committee member Amr Al-Shobaki, Egyptian academic Hani Sarie-Eldin, and President of Al-Ahly Football Club Mahmoud Taher.

Hassan said the issue of integrating the Al-Wafd Al-Misry alliance into another was not on the table. He added, however, that the alliance was considering admitting new parties that had officially applied to join, led by the Al-Dostour Party, and that the decision would be made at the next meeting.

However, the Al-Dostour Party said it had not made a final decision on joining the Al-Wafd Al-Misry alliance, despite an announcement by Al-Wadf Party’s president Sayyed Al-Badawy that he had received a request from the Al-Dostour Party president, Halah Shukrallah, to enter into an alliance with Al-Wafd.

Hassan said: “The current parliamentary law is complicated and requires the presence of parties in parliament . . . Al-Wafd is trying to be the leading party in terms of the numbers of seats, but I cannot say what this number will be.”

Under controversial electoral laws passed earlier this year, the new Egyptian parliament will have 567 members—down from more than 600—of whom 5 percent will be appointed directly by the president, rather than elected.

Of the 540 elected members, 420 will be elected directly, while 120 will be voted into office under a closed list system. In addition, several seats will be reserved for women, Coptic Christians, the disabled, expatriates and farmers and laborers.