Egypt’s Lawyers’ Syndicate held its general assembly on Sunday to vote on the fate of its current head Samih Ashour and the syndicate board.
A vote was scheduled for Sunday to vote on withdrawing confidence of the Lawyers’ Syndicate board after hundreds of lawyers demanded the ouster of Ashour, head of one of Egypt’s largest unions.
Lawyers who attended the assembly were divided between those for and those against Ashour, with both parties staging protests in front of the syndicate, chanting slogans and accusing each other.
Subsequently, light quarrels erupted. Some of them developed into fistfights, raising the already high level of intensity.
Lawyers supporting withdrawing confidence from Ashour raised slogans that called for his ouster due to the “illegal” ways through which he was elected to office.
Veteran lawyer Montaser El-Zayat led the crowd seeking the ouster of Ashour. El-Zayat had lost the election for Ashour’s position in November, who continued onto his fourth term as head of the syndicate. However, El-Zayat, who is known for his Islamist affiliations, rejected the results, adding he will file a lawsuit to reverse the results of the elections.
Moreover, police personnel were heavily deployed at the syndicate’s headquarter to secure the voting process, following the quarrels that erupted between supporters and opponents of Ashour.
In February, a petition was signed by more than 1,000 lawyers calling for the dismissal of Ashour. The veteran lawyer and unionist then headed a board meeting in March, in which he called for an emergency general assembly to vote on withdrawing confidence from the board as a whole, rather than just a singular entity.
Similarly, in June, a new movement called the National Front to Save the Lawyers Syndicate (NSFL) was formed in an attempt to withdraw confidence from Ashour.
“We came today to call for withdrawing confidence from Ashour for several reasons, among which are violations committed against lawyers in police stations without any remarkable action from the current head,” lawyer Mahmoud Abdo and member of NSFL told Daily News Egypt on Saturday.
According to the NFSL, Ashour’s violations include not fulfilling promises made upon his election, wasting the syndicate’s financial resources, and increasing segregation among lawyers.
On the contrary, supporters of Ashour claimed calls raised to withdraw confidence from Ashour are useless trials from his competitors to compensate their loss in the last electoral race held inside the syndicate.
“I refuse any call raised to withdraw confidence from Ashour. Instead, we as lawyers should support renewing confidence in him as Ashour’s opponents seek not the lawyers’ but their personal interest,” said lawyer Ahmed Nagy.
Nagy asserted that Ashour has completed several achievements during his presidency. These achievements include granting privileges to lawyers, in an aim to improve their living conditions.
The voting process inside the Lawyers’ Syndicate witnessed a momentary state of chaos when some lawyers declared the voting process was subjected to violations. These violations included forgery committed through using IDs of non-members to vote.
“Throughout 15 years of his presidency, corruption inside the Lawyers’ Syndicate has been on the rise. Fraud is currently being practised during the voting process for the sake of renewing confidence to Ashour,” said lawyer Saied Al-Awami.
NFSL is planning to launch an open-ended sit-in inside the Lawyers’ Syndicate headquarter, if it was proven that confidence has been renewed in Ashour through fraud during the voting process, lawyer and NFSL member Nasr Moussa clarified to Daily News Egypt.
On Saturday, El-Zayat held a meeting of a lawyers coalition that also seeks to oust Ashour.
El-Zayat asserted the need for judicial supervision over the voting in Sunday’s assembly meeting.