CAIRO ø Egypt has approved the formation of a secular political
movement in a move meant to satisfy U.S. demands for democratic reforms.
Egyptian sources said Al Ghad party was granted a license in a
remarkably short process and would be able to participate in parliamentary
elections. This was the third time Egyptian authorities licensed a political
party since 1977.
Al Ghad launched operations with an inaugural meeting last week and
advocate a reform agenda, Middle East Newsline reported. The party said this would include the drafting of
a new constitution.
"Al Ghad has a specific agenda for political and economic reforms in
Egypt," Al Ghad leader Ayman Al Nour said in a statement. "It has already
drafted a new constitution based on the idea of a parliamentary republic."
The sources said Al Ghad was composed of Egyptians close to the regime
of President Hosni Mubarak. Al Nour, age 40, was a journalist who became an
Al Nour was a member of parliament for the opposition Al Wafd but was
expelled for violating party guidelines. He said Al Ghad would begin
publication of a daily newspaper in January 2005.
The licensing of the new Egyptian party was meant to improve relations
with the United States, which has criticized the slow pace of democracy and
reform in Egypt, the Egyptian sources said. They said the Mubarak regime
would use Al Ghad as an alternative to the Islamic opposition.
In its statement, Al Ghad, which claimed a significant membership of
women and Christians, pledged to hold its first gathering on Nov. 6. The
then select a chairman and a 46-member executive committee.
Parliamentary elections have been scheduled for the end of 2005. Mubarak
also expected to run for a fifth term.
In 1977, Egypt instituted a committee to grant licenses to political
parties in a move meant to block the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Currently, the committee has been considering applications from the
Brotherhood-linked Al Wasat and Al Karama, regarded as loyal to the pan-Arab
principles of the late President Gamal Abdul Nasser.