Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1260, (27 August - 2 September 2015 )
Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Issue 1260, (27 August - 2 September 2015 )

Ahram Weekly

Lady of the party quits

Amid infighting, Al-Dostour Party chairman resigns, reports Mohamed Abdel-Baky

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The liberal Al-Dostour Party slipped into new turmoil following the resignation of its chairwoman Hala Shukrallah. The party, which has been torn by much squabbling and infighting since the beginning of 2015, is due to hold elections in less than a month.

On Saturday, the party’s higher committee accepted Shukrallah’s resignation. The committee also announced that the party’s Secretary-General Tamer Gomaa will succeed Shukrallah as acting chairman until a new leader is elected.

Shukrallah’s resignation was followed by three more senior leaders leaving the party: Treasury Secretary Mina Halim, Spokesman Khaled Dawoud and Chairman of the Freedom Committee Ahmed Harara.

Dawoud linked his resignation to Shukrallah’s, noting he had expressed his desire to resign two months ago.

“I am unable to perform my job as a spokesman of the party anymore due to the elections being postponed several times,” Dawoud said. “I express my appreciation for the youth in the party, hoping that elections are held soon.”

Dawoud also said he valued the role Shukrallah played during her tenure as head of the party, saying she managed to keep the party “intact” amid “tough conditions and the absence of an environment that encourages parties to work”.

Shukrallah’s resignation came after the party’s Wise Men’s Council — a committee responsible for settling party disputes — referred her to an investigation on 15 August for “violating the party bylaws” by calling for elections at the end of August. The council said it was the only body within the party entitled to call for the poll.

The council issued another statement announcing that the elections will be held on 9 October. However, Shukrallah’s resignation caused some legal complications as the party’s statutes necessitates the election of a new chairman — if the chair is vacant — within 30 days, meaning elections could be held at the end of September.

Ayman Awad, head of the Wise Men’s Council, said that a timetable for the elections will be announced next week.

“The council is committed to holding a fair and transparent election as soon as possible, but everything has to be done according to the bylaws,” Awad said.

He added that the resignation of Shukrallah does not pardon her from being investigated for taking unauthorised decisions.

The dispute between Shukrallah and Gomaa, who is supported by the Wise Men’s Council, overshadowed the last weeks of Shukrallah’s tenure when she announced she was not running for the post again. In her resignation, Shukrallah said that she hoped her decision would be in favour of the party’s interests, rather than “personal interests”.

The dispute dates back to the beginning of this year when Shukrallah called for party elections in June. But the council contested the decision saying that it was the only body within the party that had the authority to call for and supervise elections. In addition to the disagreement about who should call for the elections, there were other issues that exacerbated the problem, including voter database and some appeals against candidates running for the elections.

A senior source at the party told Al-Ahram Weekly on condition of anonymity that behind the scene there are two main issues that caused the Shukrallah-Gomaa row.

“The party stance towards the current government’s policies and whether or not the party would participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections are the two main issues of disagreement between the two leaders,” the source said.

Al-Dostour’s electoral candidates are on four lists, each consisting of three members running for the presidency, secretary-general and treasurer.

Mohamed Al-Gamal, Tarek Sharaf and Salah Khallaf are on the ‘Together We Can’ list, while Tamer Gomaa, Shadi Al-Toukhi and Mohamed Youssef are candidates on the list called ‘We Will Develop Alternatives’. The ‘With Reason We Can Change’ list includes Ahmed Bayoumi, Bilal Said and Osama Anwar. ‘Why Not?’ has Ahmed Metwalli, Sahar Ibrahim and Mohamed Safwat. The four lists must be approved by the committee that oversees the elections.

Prominent party figures including activist Gamila Ismail and former manpower minister Ahmed Al-Borai in addition to Shukrallah are not running this term. Ismail was Shukrallah’s rival in the previous election.

In February 2014, Shukrallah became the first Coptic woman to be elected to lead a political party in Egypt. The liberal Al-Dostour Party founded in April 2012 by Mohamed Al-Baradei, former vice-president in the 2013 transitional government, became embroiled in several crises especially after Al-Baradei’s resignation later that year. The party was then headed by Sayed Qassem until Shukrallah managed to secure the chair seat.

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