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Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:18 PM

The Strong Egypt Party, the Constitutional Decree, and Gaza: An Interview with Abdel Moneim Abul Fut

Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh was a leading candidate in the 2012 Egyptian presidential election held last May, garnering approximately seventeen percent of votes cast in the first round (compared to approximately twenty-four percent and twenty-three percent for the two eventual run-off candidates—Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik, respectively). He is a physician by training, and has been the president of the Arab Medical Association since 2004. Abul Futuh is a former member and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, having served on the Guidance Bureau for over two decades. During that time, he was a vocal critic of Mubarak's regime, speaking out against authoritarianism and corruption, and consequently spending several years in jail. In April 2011, he resigned from the Brotherhood shortly after announcing his presidential candidacy. Then in July 2012, Abul Futuh established the Strong Egypt Party, which styles itself as economically progressive and socially moderate political group. Despite its declared opposition to President Morsi's constitutional decree, the Strong Egypt Party has abstained from joining with the opposition. Refusing to join the protests and sit-ins in Tahrir Square, Abul Futuh and Strong Egypt have announced plans to organize their own march.

This interview was conducted with Abul Futuh in Chicago on 26 November 2012 during his first visit to the United States since the eighteen-day Egyptian uprising that toppled Husni Mubarak. While Abul Futuh was critical of the constitutional decree during the interview, he also made unsubstantiated claims against the aims and methods of the opposition to the decree. Even though he is no longer a formal member of the Muslim Brotherhood, in the interview Abul Futuh was critical of the opposition's orientation towards the group. At a time when the opposition appears to have coalesced and stood firm in its rejection to the constitutional decrees, Abul Futuh alleges that "elements of the opposition" are more interested in "settling scores" with the Muslim Brotherhood than they are in pursuing the national interests. This is a serious charge in light of the stakes of the constitutional decree, the stated intention of opposition forces to escalate their mobilizations, and the level of repression to which protesters are being subjected. However, despite being asked for details in the below interview, Abul Futuh refused to identify those elements or provide any concrete evidence.

Abdullah Al-Arian (AA): What is your reaction to the constitutional decree of President Mohamed Morsi?

Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh (AF): The transition toward democracy required a number of steps to reach its end: the election of a president, which has occurred; and the election of a parliament, which occurred with thirty million votes, but which regrettably was dissolved in the political struggle between the military council and the revolution. More important than these as concerns the composition of a democratic society is producing a constitution, which is at the root of the current problem.

in full: http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/8698/the-strong-egypt-party-the-constitutional-decree-a

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