Members of Al-Dostour Party have started an open sit-in at the party’s main headquarters in protest of party leader Mohamed ElBaradei’s recent decisions to appoint new members to influential committees and refusal to dismiss others.
Over 120 members started their protest on Sunday after all their demands were not met in ElBaradei’s recent statements, said party member Mostafa Yahia El-Safty.
A group of party members met with ElBaradei on 27 December 2012 and demanded the dismissal of the secretary general and the head of the organisation secretary as well as the dissolution of the steering committee.
They also demanded the systematic restructuring of the party due to what they say was poor internal organisation over the past for month. Al-Dostour has been without an official website, bank account, membership cards for founding members and has yet to open applications for new members since its inception four months ago.
Finally, they demanded the formation a political bureau to form the party’s positions on current events and political matters.
ElBaradei had promised the dissenting youth that he would fulfil their demands and expressed his agreement at their blaming of the general and organisation secretariats for the recent inefficiency, they claimed in a statement.
He asked them to choose representatives and meet with deputy party chairman Ahmed El-Borai on 30 December to discuss their demands in detail, but El-Borai later refused to meet them, their statement said.
ElBaradei then released a statement Saturday to all party members acknowledging that their disappointment was legitimate and announcing a party general conference during which internal elections for all positions would take place following the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The Nobel laureate also announced he would form a new steering committee that would produce periodic reports on the state of the party and tasked the secretary general and organisation secretary with completing all the procedural aspects the party has been lacking, issuing them a 15 January deadline.
The decision upset the dissenting youth members who had demanded the removal of the secretary general and organisation secretary only to find them tasked with fixing problems the members said the secretaries had created.
The formation of a new steering committee also went against their demand to dissolve the committee not replacing its members since the party already had a chairman, deputy chairman, secretary general and organisation secretary and thus needed no steering committee.
ElBaradei released another statement on Sunday appointing nine members as a new steering committee and formed parliamentary elections preparation committee, which was also rejected by the dissidents who demand such positions be decided through elections and not direct appointment.
“We insist on having our demands met because the problem is not about individuals but principles. We will enter an open-ended sit-in at the party headquarters which is an example of democracy since we are not afraid to go against anyone even the party leader. These are exactly the principles of Dr ElBaradei who always says that the youth should be the leaders and that they should be independent,” said the statement.
El-Safty says they will not abandon their sit in until all their demands are met. Party member Ahmed El-Hawary however says the internal dispute in the party is over procedural matters and that there will be more decisions by ElBaradei in the coming days that will put everyone at ease.