Coalition seeks end to Mubarak's rule

A former Egyptian prime minister, judges and intellectuals from different ideological backgrounds have formed a new movement aimed at ending President Hosni Mubarak's lengthy reign.

    Mubarak has ruled Egypt unchallenged for 24 years

    The main goal of the newly formed National Coalition for Democratic Transformation is "fighting dictatorship and corruption of the regime", said former Premier Aziz Sedki on Saturday.

    Mubarak and his supporters, including US President George Bush, claim that the longtime ruler is already working towards democratic reform, namely by opening presidential elections to more than one candidate.

    But Sedki described the recent referendum on amending the constitution that would allow the multi-party elections to take place as "not a miracle, but a farce and a fraud".

    "We are against dictatorship, and against those who shut the door to peaceful transitions, and those who mess with public money," said Yahia al-Gamal, a former government minister and member of the new coalition.

    The list of coalition members reflects how disenchanted Egyptians have become with Mubarak's government.

    Reformist agenda

    Some belonged to Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser's government. A number of writers, political analysts and lawmakers on the list were long considered to be in Mubarak's camp.

    "This is a message in itself to the regime," said terrorism expert Diaa Rashwan. "All those who were part of the ruling party have moved in a totally different direction.

    "We are against dictatorship, and against those who shut the door to peaceful transitions, and those who mess with public money"

    Yahia al-Gamal,
    Former government minister and member of the new coalition

    "It's a coalition of individuals, not professional politicians - their anger and frustration was powerful enough to push them to climb the podium," he said.

    Mustafa Bakri, the spokesman of the group and editor of the independent daily Al-Osboa, said that the Coalition would first work with other opposition groups to form a united front, and then draft their version of a new constitution.

    Bakri said they would hold a conference in a month's time and decide on a reformist agenda to present to Mubarak and the government.

    "If the ruling regime didn't consider it, the whole country will go to hell," he said.

    Pro-Mubarak group

    On Wednesday, President Bush prodded Mubarak to make Egypt a model for other Mideast nations to follow by holding genuinely democratic and contested presidential elections.

    Egypt has recently seen several
    anti-Mubarak demonstrations

    Mubarak has served for 24 years through unchallenged "yes-no" referendums and is widely expected to run again.

    This is the second group to have formed in a week of political activity.

    However, the group that came together on Thursday calling itself "Continuation" warned that Egypt would descend into chaos if Mubarak is not reelected.

    The mix of B-grade actors, journalists with checkered pasts and even the nation's wrestling champion were dismissed by Egypt's opposition in the media for not having an agenda, and claimed the Thursday meeting would be the group's only public appearance.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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