By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: National political currents have the right to boycott elections and return to Tahrir to pressure the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to draft a new constitution first before legislative and presidential elections if they feel there is no level playing field, said head of the Democratic Front Party, Osama Al-Ghazaly Harb.
At a press conference late Tuesday, Harb said that the results of the referendum aren’t binding, that there were very special circumstances surrounding the poll and that the people can supersede it.
On March 19 Egyptians went to the polls and overwhelmingly voted yes to limited amendments to the constitution which drew out a clear path for holding legislative elections first before selecting a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution.
“The best scenario is drafting a new constitution, holding presidential elections and then legislative elections … there must be equality in chances and new parties must be given time to prepare,” Harb said.
According to Harb, the Democratic Front Party is planning to contest half the People’s Assembly seats. He said that campaign preparations are still preliminary, that they are still deciding which candidates to field and that they may enter into a coalition with Al-Wafd, Al-Ghad and the Free Egyptians, a liberal party under formation.
He did not rule out the possibility of fielding former members of the National Democratic Party as long as they have not been involved in suspicious activities.
It would be “illogical”, he said, to exclude former NDP members which he claimed were six million.
Harb said that the emergence of numerous new political parties is natural as Egypt passes through a transformational period towards democracy and that it will take from two to three years for the political map to emerge in its final form.
“We are now reshaping the Egyptian political system and all political powers are getting ready amidst a state of uncertainty as democracy takes its first steps,” Harb said.
He said that the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Freedom Party is a positive step for the group as they will now be dealt with like any other political stream without exaggeration and will no longer be used as the boogeyman or the underground political group.
Harb said that the coming period will witness “true” support for the Egyptian economy as democracy helps in attracting investments and that the tourism sector is slowly regaining momentum.
“American support has been much less than we expected as we need new investments rather than direct funds,” Harb said.
He said that Egypt’s main challenge is restoring security and that the decision to cancel the curfew starting June 15 is a good step forward.
“Egyptians await a return to normalcy and that will take place through economic recovery and restoring security,” Harb said.
Speaking of security, Harb said that he visited the new National Security Authority, which has replaced the loathed, disbanded State Security Agency, three times and learnt that 95 percent of its staff was changed and replaced by officers from other departments and that old officers were reposted.
Despite widespread skepticism regarding the mandate of the new arm of the interior ministry, Harb believes that there is “genuine will” to rebuild the authority slated to focus solely on fighting espionage and anti-terrorism activities.
Harb said that the party’s higher committee will decide on Thursday whether they will hold internal elections now or postpone them until after the legislative elections.
Ibrahim Nawar, the head of the party’s cultural committee and acting secretary general, resigned earlier accusing Harb of taking “unilateral” decisions by postponing the party’s general assembly which was scheduled for July 22.
“There is a severe division within the party on whether or not to hold internal elections. Nawar had a serious accident two months ago and had been away from the party and might have received wrong messages. I spoke to him and a delegation from the party is set to visit him to explain the situation,” Harb said.
The party’s executive office refused to acknowledge Nawar’s resignation and is trying to convince him to backtrack on his decision.
Harb said that the party may not field a candidate in the next presidential elections and that the “real” candidates have yet to declare their intentions.