By Claire West

Egypt needs more than the six-month transition period planned by the transitional government to arrange to hold elections, said civil society representatives at a joint meeting of the Human Rights Subcommittee and Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this week.

Estimates of the time needed ranged from a year to a year and half.

Egypt will not seek to renegotiate its peace agreement with Israel, stressed El Ghad party chairman Dr Ayman Nour.

“A fixed six-month transition period not enough to have fair and competitive parliamentary and presidential elections (...) Civil society and political actors are of the opinion that a one-year transition period will be needed to fulfil the task of transition in an open and participatory manner”, said human rights activist Moataz El Fegiery, a member of the Executive Committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and of the Board of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

"Despite all the positive steps which have been taken so far by the Military Council, the political atmosphere is still shaped by lack of confidence and suspicion", he added.

El Ghad party chairman Dr Ayman Nour, speaking via video conference from Cairo, called for a transition period of one and half years, saying that “we want to make sure that this transition gives rise to proper foundations, if we want to create political parties because they have been marginalized and ostracized in the past in our system.”

Carmen Romero López (S&D, ES), underlined the need to ensure the government's democratic legitimacy, recalling that Spain had needed three years to put a democratic constitution in place.