The recent reemergence of former members of Mubarak’s dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) in the Egyptian political arena and their participation in the new Constitution, have prompted a widespread debate about how much of a role former the foloul, (Mubarak remnants) should have.

The recent reemergence of former members of Mubarak’s dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) in the Egyptian political arena and their participation in the new Constitution, have prompted a widespread debate about how much of a role former the foloul, (Mubarak remnants) should have.

“You will weep like women for a revolution which you, as men, failed to protect,” said Shahata Ibrahim, coordinator of Kifaya Movement in Fayuom governorate, during a meeting with a number of local residents, activists and political representatives.  Ibrahim was referring to the appearance of Mubarak remnants such as former Assembly Speaker Fathi Sururas well as former Minister of Higher Education and Parliamentary Affairs Mufid Shihab in press conferences to promote the new Constitution.

“I know what the Foloul are capable of. They can steal not only the revolution but anything they want in this country because this has been their game for the past thirty years,” Ibrahim insisted.

These same concerns were expressed by Walid Abu Srea, coordinator of the Revolution’s Safeguarding Committee at Itsa center in Fayuom. “The reemergence of the NDP’s members against whom the people revolted in January has raised fears about the future among all sections of society,” said Srea.

Not all foloul are the same

Abu Srea believes that a clear distinction should be made between tens, or possibly hundreds of Foloul in every province, and ordinary NDP members who were never accused of corruption-related crimes. However, he stressed that the government is responsible for proving to its people that it embodies the principles of both January and June revolutions. “From now on, the interim president should instruct his ministers and governors to refrain from helping the NDP’s Foloul to get back on their feet and stealing the show again,” he underlined and concluded, “The country’s old and young political forces should abandon teenage politics, join forces, form a single unit with the people and lay their foundations in towns and villages. Our politicians should abandon their attachment to leadership and we, as part of the ‘Local Authority for Young people Campaign’ have already started approaching all political forces and parties nationwide to achieve that goal.”

Despite the fuss about the foloul, which has recently become a red-hot issue in academic, political and public circles in Egypt, coordinator of the National Association for Change in Fayuom province Issam Zuhairi believes that defining the term ‘foloul’ is in itself problematic.

Defining foloul

The word was first heard at the beginning of the 2011 revolution and was used by the Muslim Brotherhood against anyone not affiliated with them, including the rebels, according to Zuhairi. He believes that the absence of a political isolation bill has made the term even more problematic.

“It is important in the coming period to determine who the Foloul are.  Are they former NDP members or leading figures, or just the corrupt elements or those who once assumed high-level positions?  I believe that we cannot afford to have them back into the country’s political life again, this would drive people away from the revolution and the rebels away from the political process as a whole,” he said.

Zuhairi suggested that the foloul should be faced by adopting unequivocal and fair laws, which would eliminate corrupt electoral practices such as bribery and fraud and would prevent prominent figures affiliated to Mubarak’s regime from sneaking back into important political or administrative positions in the state.  He says it will be particularly in difficult in rural areas because the foloul there rely on tribal and kinship ties. “Defeating the foloul will eventually depend on having strong electoral alliances and on whether the revolutionary parties will be able to form successful coalitions,” he said.

Non-ideological coalitions

Former assembly member of Al Thawra Mustamira electoral list Nasr Zughbi believes that the NDP’s foloul are seeking to steal the political show and replace the Muslim Brotherhood regime, as if no one else existed. “They are delusional since the NDP consists of a coalition of interest groups not a political coalition with definite ideology. Interest groups joined the NDP for personal gains or to preclude any potential problems with authorities. This was evident after the fall of Mubarak when suddenly all NDP fronts and members disappeared,” he said.  

Mustamira said the one thing the foloul fear most is being held accountable for past corruption and other crimes.

Political exclusion

Secretary-general of Wafd Party’s General Committee in Fayuom, Ahmad Borey rejected the notion of eliminating certain people from public life because the Muslim Brotherhood did that through their 2012 constitution by adopting the NDP’s political exclusion article, the constitutional court article and the attorney-general exclusion article.

Borey underlined that he prefers letting the people decide who can and cannot take part in public life rather than having the government place the Egyptian people under its guardianship.

At a time when Wafd Party was bitterly criticized by the political forces in Fayuom province for including some NDP members in a number of Fayuom provincial centers and other provinces, Borey defended his party’s decision: “I understand the reservations expressed by some people, but Fayuom is a special case because the concept of party activity seems foggy. I do support bringing in people who have political weight in their electoral districts provided that they have an unblemished record.”