Egypt needs more than the six-month transition period planned by the transitional government to arrange to hold elections, said civil society representatives at a joint meeting of the Human Rights Subcommittee and Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday evening. Estimates of the time needed ranged from a year to a year and half. Egypt will not seek to renegotiate its peace agreement with Israel, stressed El Ghad party chairman Dr Ayman Nour.
“A fixed six-month transition period not enough to have fair and competitive parliamentary and presidential elections (…) Civil society and political actors are of the opinion that a one-year transition period will be needed to fulfil the task of transition in an open and participatory manner”, said human rights activist Moataz El Fegiery, a member of the Executive Committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and of the Board of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
“Despite all the positive steps which have been taken so far by the Military Council, the political atmosphere is still shaped by lack of confidence and suspicion”, he added.
El Ghad party chairman Dr Ayman Nour, speaking via video conference from Cairo, called for a transition period of one and half years, saying that “we want to make sure that this transition gives rise to proper foundations, if we want to create political parties because they have been marginalized and ostracized in the past in our system.”
Carmen Romero López (S&D, ES), underlined the need to ensure the government’s democratic legitimacy, recalling that Spain had needed three years to put a democratic constitution in place.
Egypt will stick to peace deal with Israel
Dr Nour denied a claim, cited by Mashreq Delegation chair Mário David (EPP, PT), that he had advocated renegotiating the Peace Agreement with Israel and putting it to a referendum in Egypt. Dr Nour blamed the Israeli newspapers for this claim, and declared that Egypt “will continue to comply with its international agreements.”
Jose Ignacio Salafranca (EPP, ES), asked Dr Nour whether the Constitutional Assembly should first change the constitution and then hold free elections, or the reverse? Dr Nour was against holding presidential elections under this transitional government because “it has no legitimacy whatsoever”, adding that a thorough overhaul of the current constitution is necessary.
EU help for Egypt
Asked by Fiorello Provera (EFD, IT) and others what the EU can do to help the Egyptian people on the path to democracy, Dr Nour called for incentives, not sanctions, help for political parties to rehabilitate, financial support for civil society and assistance in organizing transparent elections and strengthening human rights in Egypt.
Ulrike Lunacek (Greens/EFA, AT) and Franziska Brantner (Greens/EFA, DE), asked what role women could play in the process of change. Mr El Fegiery confirmed that within the Constitutional Committee “not a single woman is present” and added that the issue of empowering women “is not raised at all at this stage”.
Solidarity with the Libyan people
Charles Tannock (ECR, UK), asked why the Egyptian authorities were not doing more to show solidarity with the thousands of Libyans fleeing across their country’s border with Egypt.
The Committee on Foreign Affairs together with Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries were associated with the meeting of the Subcommittee on Human Rights.