CAIRO: Youth groups launched a campaign dubbed "emsek flol" (catch out remnants of the former regime), exposing around 10,000 prominent members of the disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP), who were allegedly responsible for political corruption.
"Every day we expose the names of at least 500 political figures from the fallen regime on our website and Facebook page," Sherif Diab, spokesman of the "emsek flol" movement, told Daily News Egypt.
The newly-launched website www.emsekflol.com and Facebook page list names spanning Egypt’s 27 governorates. The campaign also categorizes the names under political parties and possible candidates, further divided by constituencies.
The groups involved include April 6, Youth for Freedom and Justice and the “emsek flol” movements, as well as the Coalition of the Revolutionary Youth. More than 16,000 have joined the campaign, said Diab, who claimed that the campaign has exposed some 16 new political parties whose members are ex-NDP.
"The court didn’t order the disbandment of the NDP, just to have them return to the political scene in a different form," he said.
In April, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered the dissolution of the NDP, meeting a main demand by Egypt’s political forces and activists.
The court justified its verdict by saying that the January 25 uprising had ended the previous political system, forcing the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, who led the party for three decades. This rendered dismantling the party necessary “to reflect the people’s will,” the court said.
Former NDP MP Mohamed Khalil Kwaitah described the campaign as an "insult" to the Egyptian people and their ability to choose for themselves who is capable of representing them in parliament.
"The ballot box should be the only judge in electing new MPs," Kwaitah told DNE.
"We are in a country where the rule of law is above all and generalizing the accusation of corrupting political life to include all former NDP members is unacceptable," he added.
Kwaitah will not be contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections slated for Nov. 28. An MP in the 2005-2010 PA round, Kwaitah lost to another NDP candidate in the November 2010 elections, widely criticized for violations and rigging. The ruling military council disbanded the parliament after it assumed power in February.
"This transitional period is chaotic and unclear and I believe the next parliament will not last its full term," he said.
Mohamed Hamed, member of the political bureau of the Free Egyptians Party, pointed out that these campaigns needed to verify the information they plan to expose to avoid defamation cases.
A proposed political exclusion law, if enforced, will only target leading figures of the former ruling party, such as members of the NDP’s policies committee, the party’s General Secretariat, local council leaders and former NDP MPs who won seats in the 2005 and 2010 elections.
Ingi Hamdy, media coordinator for the April 6 Youth Movement, said that members of these committees and councils were public figures and easy to pinpoint, noting that the NDP had around 3 million members, not all of them involved in political corruption.
"Some people issued NDP membership cards to facilitate their businesses and interests as a necessity while living under a corrupt regime and government that used to give NDP members special treatment," Diab said.
"These people were passive, but they weren’t responsible for corrupting the political scene and that’s why they won’t be included in our blacklist," he said.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is currently reviewing the proposed political exclusion law. However, political players believe it is too late since parliamentary candidates have already been submitting their applications for the past week. The deadline for accepting applications is Saturday, with no hint of the law coming out before then.
Mohamed El-Beltagi, leading member of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and former MP, described popular campaigns to out former NDP figures as a "necessity" since SCAF has failed to respond to general demands to exclude them.
"Even if the law is issued, the long court proceedings proving that they corrupted political life will continue well past the elections," El-Beltagi said.
"We wanted SCAF to immediately expel these prominent leading figures from the political arena without trials," he added.
Hamed believes this campaign will resonate in Cairo, Alexandria and Egypt’s larger governorates, while smaller villages dominated by tribes and prominent families will not even notice them.
"The people in these villages know that the powerful families and tribes controlling their hometown are affiliated with the NDP…but they don’t care," he said.
Diab agreed, saying that if former NDP members succeed in clinching parliamentary seats despite the campaign, the youth groups will hold an open sit-in until parliament is "cleansed" of them.
He claimed that the campaign organizers have received anonymous death threats.
“But we will not be intimidated,” he said. “We will continue our campaign no matter what.”
The new parliament will be responsible for choosing the constituent assembly that will draft the new constitution within six months of its selection.
"Our aim is to protect the revolution from these corrupt figures, so we can build a new country free of corruption," said the statement published on the campaign website.
"Egypt will not rise except [on the shoulders of] honorable people," it continued.