Monday,23 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1142, 4 -10 April 2013
Monday,23 July, 2018
Issue 1142, 4 -10 April 2013

Ahram Weekly

Divided we stand

Rifts within the Dostour Party escalate as angry members stormed the party headquarters on Monday

A political crisis within the Dostour (Constitution) Party heightened this week when young members stormed the party’s main headquarters in downtown Cairo and occupied it, reports Mohamed Abdel-Baky.

The group of 20 protesters have since announced that their takeover of the headquarters was legal, and that the building had been handed over by party co-founder Ahmed Darag in the presence of the police.

The group also announced that they have started a sit-in at the headquarters that will go on until the leadership of the party is changed.

The move took place within a week of the resignation of the party’s deputy chairman and head of its steering committee Hossam Eissa ahead of internal elections, originally planned for September but now rescheduled to take place in June.

The main demands of the dissenting members is the immediate creation of a steering committee made up of nine members from among the 10,000 members designated as co-founders of the party, in elections to be supervised by the judiciary and NGOs. They also demanded the exclusion of new members who are not “co-founders” from voting or running. Other demands relate to the hierarchy of the party and the role of its steering committee, which Eissa headed as deputy chairman.

Khaled Dawoud, the spokesperson of the party, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the party refuses such behaviour, which violates the party’s bylaws. They have called on the young protesters to give priority to the unity and integrity of the party.

Dawoud added that the party’s leadership, including Chairman Mohamed Al-Baradei, have responded to these demands by holding internal elections earlier.

Emad Abu Ghazi, the secretary-general of the party, denounced the incident at the party’s headquarters, explaining that protesters had demanded his dismissal:

“They do not represent all the young members of the Constitution Party. Young members are greater in number than this group,” said Abu Ghazi, adding that their position was not representative.

“Managing internal conflicts in parties is not done in this way and what this group has done, occupying public property owned by all the party’s members and stealing documents related to the party, is against the law as well as the party’s bylaws.”

On the party’s official Facebook page, an announcement said that “the protesters at the general secretariat headquarters were among the co-founders of the party,” and “their problem is being solved.” The official page announced that it will not publish any statements from any group involved in the current conflict in order to “preserve the unity of the party”.

Samir Al-Sayed, a political analyst close to party leadership, told the Weekly that internal rifts are expected to grow in the next few weeks.

He added that there should be no more delays in creating a clear system to structure the hierarchy of the party as it is not easy to know how decisions are made.

“Such delays in appointing the local and national leaders has created a gap between the party’s senior leaders and its members, which resulted in the emergence of interest groups within the party,” Al-Sayad said.

The party suffered an internal crisis when Eissa, its co-founder and the head of the steering committee appointed by Al-Baradei, resigned last week declaring that he could not continue due to “the lies of members”.

In a statement following his resignation Eissa said, “I want to express my respect and appreciation for the youth of the Constitution Party and their efforts to build the party and stand against the attempts of some to keep their positions of power within the party indefinitely.”

The party experienced problems in January 2013 when many young members staged a sit-in to demand the resignation of unelected officials.

The Dostour, which was formed last August, has announced that it will boycott the coming parliamentary elections. The party is currently a member of Egypt’s main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front.

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