First Published: 2005-06-06

 
Reformist groups mushroom in Egypt
 

Advocates of reform flexing muscles to shake off the grip of the state.

 

Middle East Online

By Mona Salem – CAIRO

‘Enough’ was just the beginning

In increasing numbers, advocates of reform are flexing their muscles in Egypt, setting up new movements for change and democracy with a common focus -- to shake off the grip of the state.

Judges and academics, journalists and writers, workers and politicians, have all announced embryonic groups.

The example was set by magistrates, who are demanding an end to executive tutelage of the judiciary, and by universities who want academic independance and an end to police interference.

At the weekend, politicians headed by Aziz Sedki, a former prime minister under president Gamal Abdel Nasser, announced the birth of a National Rally for Democratic Change, with the self-appointed task of drawing up a constitution to end what they called despotism and autocracy.

"We want to create a forum grouping all political forces to achieve reforms, because the bitter crisis Egypt is undergoing threatens catastrophy," Sedki told a news conference.

Another rally founder, former minister Yehya al-Gamal, added: "We want to promote democracy and change."

The same day, journalists meeting at their union headquarters formed their own body, Journalists For Change, to "lift the grip of the state and of its security services from public journals."

Karem Yehya, a journalist with Al-Ahram newspaper, said: "We want independence of the press and freedom of publication for newspapers, and the election of heads of public newspapers by their general assemblies."

He pointed out that editorial bosses of these newspapers are appointed by the government, with many continuing in their jobs beyond the legal retirement age of 65.

On Sunday, a group of intellectuals, including poet Ahmed Fouad Nejm and novelist Bahaa Taher, in turn announced the creation of a movement, writers for change.

Nejm said the group shared the same ideas as Kefaya (Enough) and would make public within days details of its aims.

Kefaya was behind a number of public street protests in the past few months. It opposes the election of President Hosni Mubarak, 77, for a fifth term in the September election, or the passing on of power to his 42-year-old son Gamal.

Gamal Mubarak himself has said he does not plan to stand in September although Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said recently that in principle, because of the May 25 referendum, there is nothing to stop Gamal doing so.

The referendum approved a constitutional amendment to allow for more than one candidate to stand in elections for president, under universal suffrage, for the first time in Egyptian history.

Opponents say it does not go far enough and that in practice restrictions will effectively prevent independent candidates from contesting the poll.

In the rolling reform demands, just weeks ago state officials and public sector workers set up another group, workers for change, which wants to establish independent trades unions.

"We are preparing a workers' conference to put in place alternative trades unions parallel to those which currently exist and which are part of the General Union of Egyptian Workers, dominated by the state and which do not look after our interests," said one of the founders, Kamal Abu Eita.

"We are part of the global movement for democracy in the country," he said.

 

Kuwait shuts two papers for breaking news blackout on 'coup tape'

Drone strike kills at least 30 ‘Qaeda’ suspects in south Yemen

Islamists kill 11 soldiers in worst attack on Algeria army in years

Twitter seeks to end ‘war’ with Erdogan: Two ‘leak accounts’ blocked!

Female candidates push rights issue to fore of Iraq election campaign

Suicide bomber targets Imam Kadhim University in Baghdad

Worse yet to come in South Sudan: Three-year-old nation on brink of collapse

Assad visits Maalula to celebrate ‘victory’ and ‘Easter’

Without proof, France fires new chemical accusations at Assad regime

Kidnappers of Tunisian diplomat demand jailed Libyans release

Landmine blasts Tunisia soldier amid growing jihadist threat

Marzouki sets an 'example' by cutting salary by two-thirds

Rouhani: Iran does not intend to be aggressive but can defend itself

Turkey to Russia: We demand a gas price revision

An extraordinary meeting: Gulf ministers agree to end tension with Qatar

US releases $450 million Iranian frozen assets

‘Retaliation is life’ group vows to attack Egypt security forces

For Massacre-scarred Algeria village, peace is worth more than wealth

An act of heroism: Iraq policeman sacrifices himself to shield army recruits

UK ‘determined to catch’ killer of Libya embassy policewoman

Experts: Washington demanded removal of Saudi spy chief

Future of Algeria on wheelchair

Palestinians rally for solidarity with Israel-held prisoners

Turkey may clinch bid to dismantle Italy’s wrecked ship

Israeli, Palestinian negotiators to hold meeting with US envoy

UN ‘gravely concerned’ about South Sudan oil state fighting

South Sudan war: Child soldiers consumed by desire for retribution

Algerians casting their vote for president

Syria world’s most perilous country fro journalists

Egypt jails ex-presidential hopeful for fraud

Egypt leftist leader urges all revolutionary groups to unite

Jordan ‘destroyed’ combat vehicles entering from Syria

South Sudan army loses key oil town of Bentiu

Lebanon parliament soon to elect new president

Zarif to discuss Caspion Sea states in Russia

MERS spreading in Saudi Arabia

Algeria finally opens its piggybank to lure back exiled youth

Suicide bombs rock Ramadi government compound

Three Palestinians killed in Gaza blast

Peace talks delayed after Palestine blamed for fatal shooting

Palestinians clash with Israeli police in Al-Aqsa

Undercover New York police unit that spied on Muslims disbanded

Washington will not issue visa for Iran UN envoy

British paedophile gets 20-year sentence in Morocco

Syria army fights its way into besieged Homs