New parties rumor

There has been a rumor going around Cairo that President Mubarak has decided to grant the Hizb Al Ghad (Party of Tomorrow) and Karamah (Dignity) party licenses, and that this will be carried out within a couple of days. Now, I don't take too much stock in rumors, especially as, at least in the case of Hizb Al Ghad, there is a case pending in the administrative court. (Read Ursula's post from last month for more info.)

Karamah, an older party founded by ex-Nasserist MP Hamdeen Sabahi -- one of the most honest men in Egyptian politics and a respected younger leftist leader -- has quite a different background that Hizb Al Ghad. It has ties with the revolutionary socialists, the underground leftist movement that has been one of the main forces behind street protests against the Iraq war and the occupation of Palestine, as well as with Egypt's growing anti-globalization movement. Karamah is motivated by ideas of social justice, while Hizb Al Ghad's central issue is constitutional reform. The first has grassroots support among intellectuals and left-wing activists, as well as some poor areas, while the second's main strength is the personality of its leaders, maverick MP Ayman Nour and former MP Mona Makram Ebeid.

Many of the regime's fiercest critics nevertheless take pride in the independence of the judiciary (I am more pessimistic on this myself), and if Mubarak can decide overnight to make the court decide in Hizb Al Ghad's favor (it seems they have a solid case anyhow), while it will be good for that party it won't say much for the judiciary. But it'll be interesting to see what happens, and I guess we'll know by the end of the week if the rumors are true.

Update: Just to clarify things, the Hizb Al Ghad ruling by the administrative court which could grant it party status is scheduled to come tomorrow. This is what probably started the rumors. Regarding Karamah, it has already been denied several times by the Higher Political Parties committee, as has Al Wasat, a centrist party mostly led by former Muslim Brothers.
Comment

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.