By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: A number of senior Al-Tagammu opposition party members earlier this week called on the party president Refaat El-Saied to step down in response to what they described as a series of “radical decisions” he has made.
El-Saied had reportedly ordered that no consultative meetings were to be held among members of the committees. He further instructed them not to speak to the media about the party’s internal affairs, decisions stirring angry reactions among several party members.
Some senior party members accused El-Saied of violating the party bylaws.
“There are no rules in the party bylaws that dictate we cannot communicate with the media … or hold meetings,” said Talaat Fahmy, Al-Tagammu Secretary General in Giza.
El-Saied could not be reached for comment at press time. But central committee member Fathia El-Assal, who had supported El-Saied’s decision to participate in the parliamentary elections, told Daily News Egypt that she has no information about this decision.
“[If I had known about the decision] I would have not talked to you or to the other journalists who contacted me recently,” El-Assal said.
Al-Tagammu recently won five seats in the People’s Assembly (PA) elections, constituting the largest opposition bloc. Yet compared to the 420 seats the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) won, Al-Tagammu is still a small minority. In 2005, the Muslim Brotherhood constituted the largest opposition bloc after winning 88 seats or fifth of the parliament. In 2010, they won one seat in the second round although they had withdrawn after the first.
“A number of party leaders believe that the recent performance of [El-Saied], especially during elections, was [characterized] by political flaws,” Fahmy told Daily News Egypt. “The decision to go through elections from the very beginning was wrong.”
“We joined the elections knowing about all the possible violations,” El-Assal stated. “The 2010 elections were, by all means, the worst [elections] in Egypt’s history.”
El-Saied refused to withdraw the party from the PA runoff elections against the will of many other party leaders. They wanted to pull out in response to the alleged violations the authorities committed in the NDP’s favor during the first PA election round on Nov. 28.
“The party decided to join the race for parliamentary seats provided that there would be guarantees for [the integrity of] the electoral process,” Fahmy told Daily News Egypt. “There [was no point in] competing over seats in the runoffs [on Dec. 5] in the absence of [such] guarantees.”
As a reaction to El-Saied’s call, a number of party leaders resigned, while others froze their memberships until party confidence in El-Saied is withdrawn. El-Saied has served as the party’s president since 2003; his tenure ends in 2012.
The Al-Tagammu members also accused El-Saied of monopolizing party decisions. However, El-Assal disagreed with this allegation.
“There was a unanimous agreement during the consultative meeting held after the first round of elections over competing [in the runoffs],” El-Assal, also a prominent writer, told Daily News Egypt.