45 hunger strikers demand application of Political Isolation Law
The number of hunger strikers in front of the Cabinet building rose on Saturday to 45, as part of a demonstration to ask Parliament to activate a law that could disqualify presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq. They now include activists Asmaa Mahfouz and Nawara Negm.
The protesters are on hunger strike to ask Parliament to activate the Political Isolation Law and apply it to Shafiq, a former prime minister under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.
They said three MPs had declared a sit-in inside Parliament in solidarity. In addition, MP Zyad Elelaimy has urgently requested a briefing to discuss the protesters’ demands in Parliament.
The amendments to the law on the exercise of political rights, which were approved by Parliament and later by the ruling military council, strip political rights from anyone who served as vice president or prime minister under Mubarak during the 10-year period before he resigned on 11 February last year. This also would apply to anyone who served as president or secretary general of Mubarak’s now-dissolved National Democratic Party, or as members in its general or policy secretariats.
When the bill was approved by the military council in April, the Presidential Elections Commission excluded Shafiq from the presidential race, but then accepted his appeal against the decision and reinstated him in it. On 14 June, two days before the election runoff is due to start, the Supreme Constitutional Court will begin considering whether the law is constitutional.
During a visit to the sit-in Friday night, former presidential candidate and leftist lawyer Khaled Ali called for the application of the law. He said his visit was a response to the call of activist Nawara Negm, who also invited former presidential candidates Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh and Hamdeen Sabbahi to take part in the protest.
Nabil Lashin, a hunger striker, said, “Our goal is to send a message to Parliament, that they need to take a decisive stand against Ahmed Shafiq and former regime figures.”
Mahfouz criticized MPs for ignoring their demands, saying, “Members of Parliament, where are you? Why do you ignore those who recognize your authority, while you resort to those who challenge your legitimacy?”
“We have started a hunger strike before Parliament because we do not recognize any the legitimacy but your [the Parliament’s] own,” Mahfouz added.
“The number of hunger strikers at the Cabinet sit-in has reached 45, including five women,” said Negm, who added that the number of hunger strikers is rising every day.
Negm said the sit-in wouldn’t be called off until the Political Isolation Law is applied to Shafiq, which would be a triumph for the revolution instead of a return to the former regime.
The protesters also demanded the retrial of Hosni Mubarak and senior figures of his regime, the removal of the public prosecutor and the release of political detainees.
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