Liberal groups merge to form new political party

As dozens of would-be political parties emerge and existing parties reinvent themselves, two secular parties announced they would merge Tuesday.

The Democratic and Liberal Egyptian parties announced they would join forces as the Egyptian Social Democrats.

Amr Hamzawy, political analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, called on the country’s secular liberal groups to follow suit.

The party said it aims to represent Egyptians without discriminating, and would avoid religious exclusivity but encourage religious figures to join.

“We are a liberal party that promotes free market policies, and we insist on a good social program for the poor people of Egypt,” said Mohamed Abul Ghar, a leading member of the party. “Our paramount concern is having a secular country.”

Ehab al-Kharrat, one of the party members who announced the merger, spoke about the concerns of some religious groups that Egypt would become a secular state.

“The word ‘secular’ needs to be properly defined and should represent what it really is. It does not oppose religious views condoned by Egypt’s current political order,” he said.

“Instead of saying this party wants a secular state, it should be said that it has a desire for an Egypt that includes all Egyptians.”

On the topic of foreign policy, the panel of speakers at the press conference said they were still developing a formal proposal to present to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The party also said it plans to nominate a leader through internal elections.

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