There have been successive attacks on the Strong Egypt Party over the past few days, beginning with the arrest of its deputy president Mohamed al-Qassas and culminating with that its president Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh.
Abouel Fotouh has been charged with leading a terrorist group and disseminating false news inside the country and abroad with the purpose of damaging the country’s interests. The South Cairo Criminal Court placed him on the country’s terrorist list on Tuesday.
On the night of February 17, police established a perimeter around the party’s headquarters in downtown Cairo, leading some to suspect that party’s dissolution was imminent.
Judge Fayez Shoukry Hanin, the head of the State Commissioners Authority and a member of the committee governing political parties at the State Council, tells Mada Masr, however, that the committee has not received reports or complaints from the general prosecution or from any citizens regarding the Strong Egypt Party as of Sunday.
Judge Anas Omara, the head of the political parties committee, had also not summoned any of the committee members for forthcoming meetings concerning the Strong Egypt Party, according to Hanin.
On November 12, 2012, the State Council’s political parties committee approved the notification of Abouel Fotouh’s intent to establish the Strong Egypt Party, and the party was formed after Abouel Fotouh presented the committee with 8,500 endorsement signatures, 3,500 above the 5,000 minimum.
Mada Masr spoke to Judge Adel al-Shorbagy, the former head of the political parties committee, to outline the requisite procedures to dissolve any political party, as outlined in the Constitution and the law.
First, according to the judge, the political parties committee must receive a complaint regarding a specific party. It must then submit a formal notice to the general prosecutor requesting that an investigation be conducted to substantiate the complaint and decide whether the party committed an action that would justify its dissolution. The prosecutor then prepares a report and corresponds with the political parties committee to commence the dissolution procedures.
Next, Shorbagy says, the committee must convene to examine and determine how to proceed from the prosecutor’s report. In the event that there is an agreement to dissolve the party, the committee issues a recommendation to the Supreme Administrative Court’s (SAC) political parties department.
The Constitution enshrines the right to form political parties under article 74 and, in the same gesture, prohibits parties from partaking directly in religious activity; discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, sect, geographic origin; and activities hostile to the principles of democracy or of a military or paramilitary character.
The Constitution grants the SAC’s political parties department alone the right to dissolve a political party via court order.
In Shobagy’s estimation, if there are any moves to dissolve the Strong Egypt Party, they would only be in the early stages of the process, wherein the political parties committee would be in contact with the prosecutor general, given the arrest of Abouel Fotouh. The judge adds that the committee, however, must wait for the State Security Prosecution to finish its investigation into the party head.
Shorbagy also cites the example of the investigations into the Construction and Development Party he requested be opened during his tenure as head of the political parties committee. The committee had received a complaint from citizens regarding the election of Tarek al-Zomor, a former leader of the Islamic Jihad movement, to the party’s presidency. The prosecution in turn notified the State Security Prosecution, which concluded that there were grounds to dissolve the Construction and Development Party. The political parties committee submitted a request to the SAC to recommend that the party be dissolved on June 24, 2017.
On February 17, the SAC’s political parties circuit adjourned its ruling on the committee’s request to dissolve the Construction and Development Party, liquify its assets, and determine whether the party has outside affiliations to groups that would undermine its status as a political party, citing a need to examine and present documents.
“We undertook the same procedure with the Nour Party,” Shorbagy says, adding that the investigation was inititated after the committee had received a complaint that the party was founded on a religious basis. The prosecution ultimately rejected the validity of the complaints, however.
“I don’t want to deny the committee and the prosecution the right to act, so they don’t say I am issuing directives,” Shorbagy says. “But I await the decision of judge Anas Omara.”
The 2011 amendment to the political parties law gave the head of the political parties committee the right to submit requests to dissolve political parties to the SAC’s first circuit. Article 4 of the amendment stipulates several conditions that a party must meet, including that the party must have a name that is not the same or similar to an existing party, nor can its policies contradict the main principles of the Constitution, the necessities of protecting national security, maintaining national unity, social peace and a democratic regime.