The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The Party of Tomorrow..

Al Ghad (Tomorrow) party bannerI was at the Administrative Court in Giza this morning to witness (as it turned out) the aspiring Hizb Al Ghad (Party of Tomorrow) once again not get permission to be registered as a political party. The Party Affairs Committee has turned down five attempts for this group to register, as it does with almost all aspiring parties. As others have done before them, the Al Ghad people have gone to the courts, but the judges decided to postpone the case till November 6. I don't understand the legal intricacies, to be honest, but apparently this postponement means the case will have to be re-argued entirely; they are basically starting from scratch. What happened today (and yesterday, when the decision was postponed 24 hours) was that some of the members of the court never bothered to show up, thus making it impossible to hand down a decision.

Ayman NourThe aspiring party's leadership consists of several prominent ex-Wafd members, including party head Ayman Nour and secretary general Mona Akram Ebeid. They have a detailed party platform, with constitutional reform one of their topmost priorities. They have also been building up quite a base, providing social services in some of Cairo's lower class and squatter neighborhoods.

What was interesting today was the very well-planned and photogenic demonstrations of support that were staged outside the court (perhaps Nour's wife Gameela, who is a journalist and the party's press coordinator had something to do with this). Fifty to a hundred supporters, including many women, were allowed (or at least weren't not allowed) not only to spread banners across the front of the building but also to enter the court building en masse. When it was understood that the wayward members were once again not coming (which was seen as an intentional boycott designed to keep the judiciary from handing down the positive decision that many expected), the crowd organized improvised sit-ins, broke into chants, and eventually stormed their way into the courtroom, literally knocking guards aside and battering down the doors.

At the recent NDP conference, there was talk of making it easier to allow new political parties to register. Supposedly, the appointment of several opposition party and independent members to the Party Affairs Committee and the establishment of a deadline after which the committee must answer petitions (they often just don't ever answer) will streamline the process. Judging from today, those who want to found a new party in Egypt still have an uphill battle. On the other hand, they seem ready to fight.