New opposition party to give voice to young Egyptians

Marzouk said the idea of a new party looks to bring together young people from across the Egyptian political spectrum.
Sunday 12/08/2018
A man in Cairo passes a mural that reads “Egypt deep in our hearts.” (Reuters)
Walking away. A man in Cairo passes a mural that reads “Egypt deep in our hearts.” (Reuters)

CAIRO - Discussions have begun among Egyptian opposition figures about creating a political party to give voice to young people who took part in the January 2011 uprising.

The leadership of the An-Naas Ad-Dimocrati (People’s Democratic Party) said popular opposition to the Egyptian government’s economic policies and the deterioration of living conditions in the country are leading to a revolutionary era and its slogan of “life, liberty and human justice.”

Maasoum Marzouk, spokesman for the founders of An-Naas Ad-Dimocrati, said such a party is “critically” necessary because “these [political youth] currents have lost faith in the existing parties due to their weakness and their rapprochement with the government.”

Marzouk, a former ambassador and an activist in the Civilian Democratic Movement, said the idea of a new party looks to bring together young people from across the Egyptian political spectrum, including the Muslim Brotherhood, even though Marzouk used to be vehemently opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and a fervent supporter of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Marzouk said An-Naas Ad-Dimocrati’s first general convention would be soon. He said the party will inspire political life in Egypt because most political parties have chosen to stay on the Egyptian government’s good side and the few opposition parties do not have a significant effect.

An-Naas Ad-Dimocrati is seeking youth groups that have removed themselves from recent political events, including elections, and refused to participate in youth forums convened under the auspices of the presidency.

Marzouk pointed out that the party wants to communicate with young Egyptians who are opposed to the Sisi government but have become a silent majority. He hinted the party had reached out to important figures of the movement behind the revolution of January 2011 but who now live outside Egypt.

Marzouk said he would not reveal the names of the party’s leadership because of “the crackdown on freedoms (in Egypt), which makes it difficult for the opposition to take public actions and places its emblematic figures under a lot of police harassment.”

Marzouk blamed the government for the poor state of political life in Egypt. He said Egyptian authorities refuse to give approval to public meetings and conventions and continue to abuse the protest laws, making it difficult to have street demonstrations.

Marzouk said the opposition in Egypt represents a threat to the Sisi government so the new party would try to revive political life in Egypt with An-Naas Ad-Dimocrati seeking a cure for “revolution fatigue.”

Marzouk said he was focusing on the failure of government economic reforms because many Egyptians are feeling the effects of the new conditions and “it is up to the sincere political forces to regain the public’s trust in their capacity to bring about change.”

Abdel Monem Said, former director of the Centre for Political and Strategic Studies at Al Ahram Foundation, said political parties’ problem in Egypt is that they do not have ideas that are attractive to the public. Those who led the Egyptian revolution experienced similar problems. An-Naas Ad-Dimocrati has supported goals that leftist movements in Egypt adopted for some time but were impossible to implement.

Said added that An-Naas Ad-Dimocrati “espouses ideas that might convince a great number of citizens to join them in creating a strong coalition that can become critical amidst the current (political) void.”

He pointed out that the crisis of the political parties relates to classifications applied to the political currents, such that there will be a balance between all forces. Today, political forces are isolated into small entities unable to form a united bloc that can stand up to the government, Said said.