By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: Mohamed Sarhan, deputy president of the opposition Al-Wafd, said that the party has no right to freeze the memberships of its candidates who have — against the party’s will— registered as independents in the new People’s Assembly (PA).
Earlier last week, Al-Wafd’s supreme committee froze the memberships of seven dissident members who defied a decision to boycott the PA runoff elections. The committee stated that their memberships will remain frozen until a special committee determines whether or not they are permanently revoked.
The committee is expected to formally question the seven party members later this week. In the meantime, the party has officially informed the PA that it has no representatives in the newly seated parliament.
On Dec. 2, Al-Wafd’s executive bureau announced its withdrawal from the runoff elections in response to allegations of vote rigging and a number of violations that were believed to have taken place during the first round of the PA elections on Nov. 28. Although Al-Wafd fielded approximately 200 candidates, only two of the party’s candidates won PA seats in the first round.
Despite the party’s decision to boycott, seven of its members competed in the Dec. 5 runoffs as independent candidates. However, six of the candidates still ran as party members, with one other participating the runoffs as an independent candidate who shares Al-Wafd’s political ideologies.
Sarhan told Masrawy.com news portal that Al-Wafd’s executive bureau violated party regulations when it decided to withdraw from the PA elections after the first round.
“The party’s general assembly approved [its members] to compete over the PA seats … and hence the party took part in the elections,” Sarhan was quoted as saying.
According to Sarhan, “no other entity inside the party has the right to call off the general assembly’s decision” since the general assembly is a higher authority within the party.
However, Al-Wafd Secretary General Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour disagrees with Sarhan, stating that the party had already followed Al-Wafd general assembly’s decision to participate in the first round of PA elections.
“No violations have ever been made [against] the general assembly decision,” Abdel-Nour told Daily News Egypt. “Pulling out [of] the runoffs was another issue.”
According to Abdel-Nour, the party bylaws dictate that its supreme committee is responsible for making all elections-related decisions. Any new developments that require a decision be made after the elections have started — such as whether or not the party will participate in the PA runoff elections — are handled by Al-Wafd’s executive bureau, said Abdel-Nour.
Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) spokesman Sameh El-Kashef previously told Daily News Egypt that the Law for Practicing Political Rights dictates that Al-Wafd candidates are allowed to serve as independent MPs.
“The withdrawal of Al-Wafd party from the elections is an internal issue that does not concern the [SEC],” El-Kashef said. “The law regulates the candidacy of [individuals], not parties.”