CAIRO: Thirty-five Ghad party members were questioned by the public prosecution office Thursday following clashes between rival Ghad factions outside the party’s downtown headquarters.
A fire which began in the headquarters during the clashes resulted in 60 percent of it being destroyed, according to Wael Nawwara, head of the party’s executive committee.
Five people are reported to have been injured during the clashes.
Nawwara told Daily News Egypt that none of those questioned were formally charged on Thursday.
“We were questioned as witnesses to the event – which is strange given that we were the victims of an attack – and questioned directly whether we were responsible for the fire which began in the office. We explained that we had filed a report warning that Moussa planned this attack days before it happened, Nawwara said.
“The head of the Qasr El-Nil police station has filed a report saying that we were responsible for the fire. We were not allowed to see his report, which is highly irregular.
On Thursday morning at roughly 10 am supporters of Moussa Mostafa Moussa, who is contesting leadership of Al Ghad, congregated in Talat Harb Square below the party headquarters where Gamila Ismail, wife of ex-party chairman Ayman Nour and others had convened to hold a general assembly.
An ongoing power struggle within the Ghad party began after Nour’s imprisonment, when he was stripped of the party’s presidency.
Eyewitnesses to Thursday’s events say that the two groups threw bottles and rocks at each other.
A group of men was photographed using lit aerosol cans to try and destroy the door and force their way into the locked building.
Fire broke soon after the clashes began, with both sides blaming each other for causing it.
Nawwara denies Moussa’s allegations that Molotov cocktails were thrown from the third floor balcony of the Ghad party headquarters. “There were no signs of fire or burning in the street below, no sign of damage to cars which is what one would expect if Molotov cocktails were being thrown from above.
“The fire started in the general secretary’s room. We had opened the windows to try to stop glass being smashed by the rocks being thrown from below, and left the curtains closed. It seems that the fire started when something was thrown and the curtains caught fire.
Nawwara sees little point in filing criminal charges against those responsible for what he compared to an attack of “military intensity.
“The regime wants to silence any opposition and Moussa is merely a tool in the hands of the regime. If I want to press charges I should press charges against Mubarak.
“At the end of the day this is a massacre of the opposition. There’s no justice system or law, it’s a political vendetta carried out right after the National Democratic Party’s annual conference during which the political opposition was demonized.
“All sinners go to hell – we were just given a taste of hell in this life.
Nawwara accuses the NDP of complicity in Thursday’s events, and alleges that Moussa is in league with the ruling party.
“Our party by-laws put in place a council of wise men whose members are appointed for life and which has responsibility for convening general assemblies and deciding on the correctness of proceedings.
“We installed this council precisely to try and avoid the state’s tactics of fragmenting opposition political parties.
Nawwara says that the council expelled Moussa in 2005 after he filed a legal case against the party before he attempted to seek a resolution using internal mechanisms, as is required by the party’s by-law.
According to Nawwara, the council does not recognize the legitimacy of Moussa’s claim to chairmanship of the party.
He says that the 2007 legal ruling concerned a power dispute between Moussa and his assistant, Ahmed Maher Abaza which had no bearing on the party chairmanship, labeling the judgment a “legal gimmick.
He also alleges that Moussa has attempted to “bribe the council into recognizing him as chairman with the promise of seats in the People’s Assembly.
The general assembly which Nawwara, Ismail and others were attempting to hold Thursday was a prelude to leadership elections which had been scheduled to be held Friday, but which have now been postponed.
“The annual general assembly we were holding yesterday was entirely legitimate. We had informed the council as well as the political parties commission of the Shoura Council that we would be holding it.
“The events which happened could not have happened without Mubarak’s permission. Moussa had threatened in the press days before Thursday that he would sabotage the general assembly, and yet on the day itself there was no security presence whatsoever.
“This is a mockery, a plot to kill us and to scare people out of entering politics – the message is, it’s either the NDP or go to hell.