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Aboul Fotouh's Strong Egypt merges with opposition group

Ongoing dialogue between Strong Egypt and other opposition parties leads to speculation of political alliances on the horizon
Egyptians demonstrating in Cairo on 12 September (AA)

Leaders of two opposition parties announced they are merging this week to push for unfulfilled objectives of the January 25 revolution that started more than three years ago.

Strong Egypt, headed by 2012 presidential candidate Abdul Moneim Aboulfotouh, and al-Tayar al-Masry, an opposition party founded by revolutionary youth groups and political activists after the 2011 uprisings, declared their alliance at a press conference on Wednesday.

“Starting from today, the two parties have become a single entity under the name of the Strong Egypt Party which aims to achieve the objectives of the January 25 revolution,” said Ahmed Yasin, a member of al-Tayar al-Masry’s supreme council.

Several opposition groups and activists, including the April 6 movement and poet Abdel Rahmadn al-Qaradawi attended the press conference in which Strong Egypt called for the release of April 6 movement activist Ahmed Maher.

Detained in December 2013 after demonstrating against the country’s protest law, Maher was arrested along with two other well-known political activists, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel. They are still in detention.   

Ongoing opposition dialogue

Along with the Strong Egypt-al-Tayar al-Masry alliance, news also emerged this week of an ongoing dialogue between the group and several other opposition parties, leading to speculation that there could be further alliances in the works.

Some media accounts even jumped the gun, reporting that Strong Egypt had united with several opposition parties and public figures including the Ghad al-Thawra Party, al-Wasat, the Salafist al-Watan, journalist Belal Fadl, Carnegie senior research associate Amr Hamzawy, Cairo University political science professor Hassan Nafea and 2013 presidential candidate Ayman Nour under a new umbrella called “Strong Egypt Alliance”.

Sources from within the party have denied these reports, but confirm that a dialogue between Strong Egypt and other opposition parties, including al-Wasat and April 6, are underway. The purpose of the dialogue, they said, is to encourage broader communication among Egyptians in opposition, not form political alliances.

"Our goal is not the return of Morsi or the continuation of Sisi. We are focused on a return of the democratic process and for that reason we are in communication with all political factions - those in the opposition and those supporting the government, as well as those who recognise the government as legitimate and those who do not. We are not currently a member of any coalition however," Egypt Stong's founder Aboulfotouh told MEE.

"The different opposition groups feel it is time to reorganise and discuss how to cooperate and move forward," said Mohame Osman, member of the Egypt Strong party’s political bureau.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been excluded from these talks, he said, because the group “has proven time and again that they do not adhere to agreements and therefore cannot be trusted to follow through with a pact.”

Goodbye Aboulfotouh?

Members of Strong Egypt said elections will be held before the end of the year to replace Aboulfotouh as leader.

"We do not want the party to always depend on Aboulfotoh. He will still be part of the party, but in the next internal elections the members will vote for a new president,” said Khadiga Omar, an Strong Egypt member.

Aboulfotouh, was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood until 2011 when he resigned his membership after he decided to run for president. His ads during the campaign made headlines for their catchy songs and puppets.

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