Thursday, September 29, 2011

Egyptian Left rising: first post-revolution leftist party marches to legality

The Socialist Popular Alliance becomes the first leftist party since the January 25 Revolution to submit a formal notification to the parties committee

Ekram Ibrahim
Wednesday 28 Sep 2011

Socialist Coalition Party celebrating their legality
On Wednesday, members of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party marched in joy through Tahrir Square, playing the oriental ‘Hasabla’ music in celebration of collecting the minimum 5,000 notarised memberships needed to apply for official status. The Popular Alliance has now become the first leftist party to reach the mark since the January 25 Revolution.

“We have been working on the establishment of this party since March, we are so happy to finally reach this stage,” Mona Ezzat, a member of the general secretariat, told Ahram Online.

Having submitted the required documents today, Popular Alliance members are now awaiting the approval of the parties.

The members marched, bearing a sign with the name of the party and a subtitle which read: “workers, peasants, artisans’ employees, students, professionals and intellectuals.” Party members celebrating in Tahrir on Wednesday represented a cross-section of Egyptian society; peasants and workers along with notable intellectuals danced to the music, chanting: “The alliance stems from the factories and the agriculture land,” “Down with military rule” and “We demand social justice.” The Popular Alliance seeks a civil state, calling for an end to military rule and opposing the idea of a religious alternative.

“I am here dancing and singing with the crowd because the party is working on the rights of the poor,” Saad Hosni, a peasant from Aswan and a member of the Socialist Popular Alliance, told Ahram Online.

The leftist party stands against the reactivation of the emergency law and have also demanded that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces provide a timetable for the transitional process and put an immediate end to military trials for civilians. Accordingly, they are planning to take part in this Friday’s “End to Emergency Law” protest in Tahrir Square.

Among the party’s popular and influential figures are Abdel-Ghaffar Shokr, deputy director of Arab and African Research Centre and a well-known socialist activist; Khaled El-Sawi, an actor and activist and Sonallah Ibrahim, a famous novelist and short story writer.

The party, which is now working on attracting the participation of youth and women, was able to collect close to 6,000 authorisations from 26 different governorates.

Under the ruling military council’s recent party formation laws which eased the conditions imposed under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, parties must present the parties committee, composed of judges and chaired by the head of the court of cassation, with written notification of their intention to operate as a political party. The notification must be signed by a 5,000 members from 10 different governorates, with at least 300 members from each of the governorates.

Egypt now has 47 officially approved parties, according to the Parties’ Affairs Commission.

In a report titled, “The Political Parties Map in Egypt in 28 September 2011”, the commission mentioned that among the 47 political parties officially approved, 23 parties were established before the January 25 Revolution while 24 parties have since been approved.

The first party to be approved after the new law was passed in March, according to the commission, is the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Freedom and Justice Party.

A handful of other leftist parties have also been seeking the required memberships, including the Democratic Workers Party, the Communist Party, and the Socialist Party.

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