As parliamentary elections near, does the opposition stand a chance? 

July 17, 2019

The life span of the current Egyptian parliament will end at the beginning of October 2020, something that has driven some members of the opposition to get involved in political battles, despite the ruling regime. They have all ended up in prison. 

On the morning of June 25 we woke up to the news in Egyptian newspapers that the Ministry of Interior had issued a statement entitled “defeat the plan of hope.”

The Ministry of Interior said that “under the efforts in the context of fighting the subversive movements of the terrorist Brotherhood the national security sector succeeded in tracking the hostile plan prepared by fugitive leaders of the Brotherhood in coordination with loyal leaders who are alleging that they are among the representatives of civil political forces entitled “the plan of hope.” 

“The statement hinted that the Brotherhood worked on bringing them together and providing financial support through the revenues of several economic entities managed by the leaders of the Brotherhood to target the state and its institutions to topple it in conjunction with the anniversary of the June 30 revolution.”

Who has been charged?

Although the majority of Egyptian national or private newspapers alleged that the arrested are members of the Muslim Brotherhood, they include:

  1. Ziad al-Alimi, a former parliamentarian and member of the supreme body of the Egyptian Democratic Party, member of the executive office of the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution and the former spokesperson of the coalition. He ran in the Egyptian parliament elections in 2011-2012 on the Egyptian Bloc lists for the fourth electoral district of Cairo. This district included Heliopolis, El-Nozha, Badr City and El-Shorouk City. He won his seat in the first round. Al-Alimi contributed towards establishing the student commission for rights and the advocating commission of the Palestinian people in Cairo University. He also participated in the organisation of many relief convoys for the Palestinian people and participated in the freedom committee of the Lawyers’ Syndicate. He also initiated the Kefaya movement and the National Association for Change and participated in the June 30 demonstrations against the late President, Mohamed Morsi’s, regime. 

His father is doctor Abdul Hameed al-Alimi, one of the students’ movement leaders in the 1970s, and his mother is the journalist Ikram Yousef, one of the student leaders in the Faculty of Economics and Political Science in the 1970s.

  1. Hossam Moanis

A journalist in Al-Karama newspaper and among its founders in 2005, a young political activist, the spokesman of the former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi. Moanis is one of the most prominent young Egyptians who had a great role in Egyptian political life, especially since the January 2011 revolution. He is a member of the rights defence front, and the spokesman of the Egyptian Popular Current and among its cofounders. 

He was member of the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution and among its spokespeople; he witnessed all the political battles since the January revolution as he was active in all the events, whether it was politics, syndicates or journalism. He also participated in all events and activities until June 30 and was among the most prominent people supporting it.

  1. Hesham Fouad 

A left-wing journalist who works for the Russian press agency Sputnik. His biography at The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights says he “belongs to a family who have an honourable, patriotic and political history.”

His father is the great patriot Fouad Abdul Haleem who spent 10 years in prison for his struggle against tyranny and injustice, and his demands for the poor, the workers and the peasants’ rights.

He had an outstanding role as a student both inside and outside the university in the 1990s. In 1992 his role emerged within the Gulf War “Desert Storm”.

At the beginning of his life he worked for many newspapers before he settled at Al-Araby Al-Nassery. He then became involved with trade union activity and had a prominent role in the Journalists’ Syndicate.

  1. Omar El-Shenety  

He served in a number of executive positions in the business field, among them CEO for Multiples Investment Group, and as a board member for Abraj Misr. The Seizure and Management Committee of Muslim Brotherhood Funds issued a decision to seize the funds of the Arab International Company and the owner of Alef bookstores, which is El-Shenety.

The true charge

The above mentioned four names are just some of many other accused persons in the hope case who have no near or far relation to the Muslim Brotherhood, so what is the real charge that wasn’t mentioned by the Ministry of Interior in its report?

A parliamentary source indicated to the independent website Mada Masr  that “hope is a temporary name of a political coalition that was determined to be announced within days, the coalition combining [parliamentarians], party leaders, young people and journalists who want to [participate] in the political arena in preparation for the next parliamentary elections.

The MP who participated in this preparatory meeting indicated that these meetings has been held over the past two months in the offices of a number of political parties. Meetings were held openly and not in secret. 

He added that: “We held  preparatory meetings to identify a number of MPs and parties which prepared to [carry out] political work under the law and constitution, to unify the civil forces under a set of governing rules for the alliance, most notably that no members of the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak or Muslim Brotherhood would be allowed to be involved.”

The MP added: “We finished the political document, then we were about to finish the regulations paper and we were preparing for a press conference to announce the coalition within days.” He indicated that they didn’t work in secret, that all the meetings were announced, and that the last meeting was held at the Conservative Party’s headquarters and the previous one was in the Egyptian Social Democratic Party’s headquarters.

He added that: “We are not waiting for a statement by the Ministry of Interior accusing people who are paying an ultimate price unjustly and aggressively; instead of this we want a statement from the political leadership that explains whether political activity is allowed in Egypt or not.”

A source in the Civil Democratic Movement, who asked not to be named, said that over the last several weeks communication took place between members of the movement, independent political figures and with members in the parliamentary coalition, the 25-30 Alliance. These communications concerned running in the parliamentary elections in 2020 under a unified flag. He added that a number of the arrested people were party to these communications, but that there is another person who had no relation to this discussion.

The Civil Democratic Movement includes parties such as the Constitution Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Bread And Freedom Party (under construction).

Bahey Eldin Hassan, the well-known human rights activist, wrote on Twitter: “over the last weeks National Security has summoned leaders  of the hope coalition… and threatened them and others to be arrested.” Hassan added that: “the main purpose of this coalition is to be prepared for the parliamentary elections in a year.”

Almawkef Almasry said that “according to some human rights activists,  Ziad Al-Alimi and Hossam Moanis participated for weeks in meetings with opposition representatives in Egypt and were seeking to join forces to announce a coalition that could run in the next parliamentary elections. This coalition was expected to be declared within days.”

Finally, the important questions is, would the opposition be able to build a political bloc to run in the next parliamentary elections? Will National Security arrest whomever is thinking about doing this?