Hans van Baalen: Democratic opposition risks to be set aside

On 14 February, LI President Hans van Baalen MEP and ALDE Leader Guy Verhofstadt MEP debated in a video conference with Egyptian liberal leader Ayman Nour of LI observer party El Ghad on the situation in Egypt. Nour criticized the fact that the secular democratic opposition was not included in talks with the military on how to organise free and fair elections. The Muslim Brotherhood, however, is included in the commission installed by the Armed Forces which should prepare changes to the current constitution. Other members are close to the army and the NDP. The parliamentary elections are scheduled in two months time which makes it impossible for the democratic opposition to organise itself. Proportional representation is not on the agenda.

El Ghad, the Democratic Front Party (LI full member) and the New Wafd Party are co-operating closely. Mohammed el-Baradei, however, seems unable to unite the broad opposition and seems bypassed by the military. The National Democratic Party (NDP) of former President Mubarak could make a deal with the Army to limit democratic reform and to maintain control. The democratic world should speak out in favour of inclusion of the secular and democratic opposition in the transition process. After the video conference, President Van Baalen had contact with Ayman Nour on the peace with Israel. Nour stated that he, contrary to the reference in The Jerusalem Post earlier this week, fully backs the peace with Israel. A joint delegation of ALDE, FNF and LI will visit Egypt soon.