Saturday,16 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1246, (14 - 20 May 2015)
Saturday,16 December, 2017
Issue 1246, (14 - 20 May 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Party poopers

Hours before board elections were scheduled for 15 May the Wafd Party’s internal crisis deteriorated. Ahmed Morsy reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The eight leading members of the Wafd Party suspended two weeks ago were summoned for questioning by a disciplinary committee on 6 May. The eight Wafdists, all members of the party’s board, refused to attend the committee meeting. On 13 May they failed to show up for a second session.

Fouad Badrawi, Essam Shiha, Yassin Tageddin, Mustafa Raslan, Abdel-Aziz Al-Nahas, Sherif Taher, Ahmed Younis and Mohamed Al-Messiri - the eight members referred to the disciplinary committee – held a meeting in Sharqiya on 1 May during which 1,200 party members announced they no longer had any confidence in Wafd Party Chairman Al-Sayed Al-Badawi. Under party rules a no-confidence motion supported by 500 members triggers immediate action.  

Immediately following the Sharqiya meeting Al-Badawi called for an emergency session of the Wafd Party’s higher committee at which the party head’s supporters voted to suspend the membership of their eight colleagues and refer them to investigation.

Fouad Badrawi, a chairmanship candidate in 2014, leads the dissident group.

“The higher committee meeting which decided to suspend our memberships was illegal. The board was dissolved on 24 April, three weeks before new elections. Any decisions made after the board was dissolved are null and void. The same applies to the disciplinary committee assigned to question us,” says Badrawi.

Shiha, too, argues the emergency meeting was invalid.

“It convened illegally. Not only had the board already been dissolved, but only 16 out of 60 members showed up. That means it did not meet its quorum,” says Shiha.

Ahmed Ouda, head of the committee tasked with questioning the eight members, told Al-Ahram Arabic website that under party regulations should suspended members fail to attend questioning sessions they are automatically expelled.

But Badrawi refused to be cowed. “The Wafd Party is not owned by Al-Badawi or the higher committee,” he said.

On 10 May the suspended party members headed to the General Prosecutor’s office and filed a complaint against Al-Badawi, accusing him of squandering public money and corrupting the political life.

And in Alexandria a group of party members began a campaign, which they have called Leave, to collect signatures demanding Al-Badawi’s resignation.

Campaigners distributed leaflets calling for Al-Badawi’s to “leave... because of wasting party funds, for the lie that the party will lead the political scene, for welcoming the remnants of the Mubarak regime into the party and failing to meet any of his election promises”.

“Al-Badawi has long abused his position as party leader, giving himself absolute authority over party decisions as if the party were one of his companies,” says Shiha, the Wafd Party’s onetime legal advisor.

He believes Wafdist candidates will pay a heavy price in the upcoming parliamentary elections for what he says is the “stubbornness” of Al-Badawi.

Egypt has been governed without a parliament since 2012. Parliamentary elections scheduled for March and April this year have been indefinitely postponed. They can only be held when the election laws, declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court, are redrafted.

Meanwhile, the party is continuing preparations for board elections, scheduled for tomorrow, even as the South Giza Urgent Court opened hearings, on Monday, into appeals filed by members of now-dissolved high board demanding a halt to the elections.

The dispute has overtones of April 2006 when the then Wafd leader Noaman Gomaa sacked his second-in-command, Mounir Fakhri Abdennour, now minister of industry and trade. When Abdennour and his supporters began calling for a change in leadership the party’s Political Bureau revoked Gomaa’s decision, dismissed him and appointed Mahmoud Abaza as interim leader.

A legal battle ensued, with Gomaa filing a complaint with the prosecutor-general against his “illegitimate sacking,” arguing only the party’s General Assembly was entitled to dismiss him.

The General Assembly duly sacked Gomaa and appointed Mustafa Al-Tawil as interim leader.

In one of the more bizarre developments of the 2006 dispute Gomaa and his supporters broke into the Wafd Party’s headquarters and opened fire on their rivals. Gomaa was arrested in the aftermath of the incident which left 23 people injured and parts of the party’s headquarters destroyed by fire.

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