Al-Ahram Weekly Online   16 - 22 June 2005
Issue No. 747
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Meeting the test

By Medhat El-Zahed

Egypt's political system is being severely tested by the calls for change being voiced across the region. Patchwork remedies will not work, nor will they stem foreign pressures. It is time to end the emergency laws and form a constituent assembly to draw up a new constitution enshrining the right of the people to participate in decision-making processes, permitting the rotation of authority and restricting the tenure and absolute powers of the president.

These demands form a purely Egyptian agenda for political reform. "Independence and a constitution" was, after all, the banner beneath which the national movement rallied before 1952. And following the 1967 defeat demands for democratic freedoms came once more to the fore.

The opposition parties, along with every other democratic force in the country, have called for restrictions on the freedom to found political parties and associations, publish newspapers and organise peaceful political marches, assemblies and strikes to be lifted.

Now it is time to respond to the voice of the people. Their demands should not be confused in any way with American pressure or foreign intervention which the people always have, and always will, reject. Democratic forces in Egypt have repeatedly voiced their opposition to American designs to achieve global hegemony and in doing so have registered their opposition to the Egyptian government's submission to the US in many fields.

Patriotic forces in Egypt are now demanding the changes for which the people have long hoped. The popular aspiration for liberty must not be dampened by appeals to national unity in the face of foreign pressures. A free people has the strength to resist foreign intervention and defeat all attempts of domination and subjugation. It is divesting the people of their democratic armour that leaves them vulnerable to infiltration.

This week's Soapbox speaker is the editor-in- chief of Al-Tagammu newspaper, issued by the Tagammu Party.

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