New party shows deep political change in new Egypt

A court on Saturday approved a new political party that had sought a license for 15 years, making it the first to be recognized since Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow and illustrating the political earthquake shaking the new Egypt.

In a move to placate reformists and strikers and distance itself from the Mubarak regime, the interim government will change up to four ministers in a limited cabinet reshuffle, an Egyptian official was quoted by state media as saying.

The Wasat Party (Center Party) had tried to gain an official license four times since 1996, but each time its application was rejected by a political parties committee chaired by a leading member of the ruling party, a procedure that stifled opposition.

“The court ruled that the party was established and legitimate as of today,” Egypt’s news agency said of Wasat, set up by a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood and which wants to fuse a respect for Islamic society with democracy.

The means that the Wasat Party can take part in elections that the military has promised to hold within six months and its founder Abou Elela Mady said that it had been powered by “the winds of freedom that blew with the revolution.”

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took over in Egypt after the momentous downfall of Mubarak, 82, dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution to amend it ahead of the elections.

“The current unstable political conditions do not permit a new constitution,” said the official quoted by state media, referring to turmoil in the Arab world’s most populous nation that followed anti-Mubarak protests that started on January 25.

The amendments are expected to be completed in the coming days and will be submitted to a referendum, a judge on the committee dealing with the changes said.

Egypt’s military this weekend warned workers using their new-found freedom to protest over pay that strikes must stop, in a move that businessmen said on Saturday could have come sooner.

Workers cite a series of grievances. What unites them is a new sense of being able to speak out in the post-Mubarak era.