Egypt approves new political party

133.jpgCAIRO (AFP) – Egypt approved on Thursday the formation of a new liberal political party headed by a former member of President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

The electoral commission, which oversees party affairs, said it had agreed to allow Osama Ghazali Harb to establish his breakaway Democratic Front.

In July, Harb launched a campaign to present plans for the new group, which is based on building “a true and complete democratic system” and a free market economy.

He highlighted the need for “a new social governance that is based on the rule of the people by the people and which relies on the transition of power and the limitation of terms.”

Members include former minister Yehya al-Gamal and a handful of businessmen and celebrities.

Last year, Harb resigned from the NDP’s influential Policies Committee, headed by Mubarak’s son, Gamal, accusing the regime of not fulfilling promises of reform.

In March, a series of constitutional amendments was approved, billed by Mubarak as a way to “strengthen political parties” and ease restrictions for candidates to run in presidential elections.

But the changes were seen by opposition members and independent observers as a way to curb the increasing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest and most organised opposition group in the country.

The Islamist group is officially banned, but it controls one fifth of the parliament after fielding candidates as independents during 2005 legislative elections.

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