EGYPT: Muslim Brotherhood secures tens of thousands of signatures for ElBaradei's petition
The number of Egyptians who have signed a petition for political reform proposed by potential presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei has doubled over the last two weeks after the Muslim Brotherhood posted the document on one of its affiliate websites.
Since launching tawkatonline.com on July 7, nearly 70,000 followers of Egypt's largest opposition group signed the petition, taking the total to 145,000 signatures since the petition was first proposed by ElBaradei's National Front for Change in April.
"Signatures on petition for change increasing steadily. There's no going back. Youth are Egypt's hope for a better future," Elbaradei, the former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, said on his Twitter account.
The Brotherhood has previously announced it supports ElBaradei's efforts for reforms, especially after the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said the Brotherhood has a right to participate in the political process. The Egyptian constitution now bars the formation of any political party based on religious beliefs, forcing the Brotherhood, which controls 88 seats in Parliament, to run its candidates as independents.
ElBaradei is attempting to collect at least 1 million signatures for his petition, which includes demands such as ending nearly 30 years of emergency law, allowing full supervision by the judiciary over upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, and loosening regulations on independent candidates.
Before the Brotherhood endorsed the petition drive, the Front for Change had amassed only 75,000 signatures over four months in an effort to loosen the grip President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party has on national politics. Cooperation between ElBaradei and the Brotherhood, however, is viewed with suspicion by some analysts who believe ElBaradei's secular agenda contradicts with the group's Islamic beliefs.
"The Muslim Brotherhood wants to use ElBaradei as a card in its negotiations with the regime ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections," Hossam Tamam, an expert on political Islam, said. Parliamentary election are set for the fall.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: ElBaradei among supporters in a demonstration against the torture killing of a young man in Alexandria last month. Credit: Amr Nabil / Associated Press