The Salafi Al-Nour Party’s internal elections were held despite the divisions within the party. Elections were already held in 19 regions before former party chairman Emad Abdel Ghafour put them on hold.
Elections were held on Saturday according to official spokesperson Nader Bakar and will continue on Sunday for the 11 remaining regions with results already being announced by Saturday evening.
Abdel Ghafour was removed from office by the high board on Thursday after attempted to suspend the elections. Vice Chairman El-Sayed Khalifa replaced him. Abdel Ghafour rejected his dismissal and responded by purporting to suspend several high members, including Ashraf Thabet and Bakar.
Abdel Ghafour continues to maintain he is still party chairman but according to Bakar, the official acting party chairman is now Khalifa.
Abdel Ghafour announced he would hold a reconciliation meeting for all factions within the party as chairman. Ahmed Thabet, former deputy speaker of the People’s Assembly and Al-Nour high board member who is an unofficial leader of the faction that ousted Abdel Ghafour said he does not recognise this meeting or Abdel Ghafour’s authority to call it.
Thabet told Al-Ahram that if Abdel Ghafour, as regular high board member, wanted to meet with the high board under the chairmanship of Khalifa, it could be arranged.
“He [Abdel Ghafour] knows the party bylaws very well. He does not have the power to suspend anyone, only the party’s Shura [consultative] Council has that power,” said Bakar who added that he was still the party’s official spokesperson.
Bakar said that the decision to remove Abdel Ghafour was perfectly legal and that his term had already expired.
“We tried to get him to resign so that it would have come from him, especially since he was appointed as a presidential assistant, but he didn’t respond favourably. In the end he had to be removed,” Bakar said.
According to Bakar, Abdel Ghafour took decisions in an autocratic fashion without consulting other members, which was one of the main reasons the high board removed him.
Yousry Hammad, also a party spokesperson and an ally of Abdel Ghafour, released a statement supporting him. He said Abdel Ghafour was appointed chairman by the board of directors of the party’s mother organisation, the Salafi Calling, following the collection of over 6,000 endorsements.
“And now there are those who want to remove the man claiming it is because he is a presidential assistant, even though there is nothing in the party bylaws that prohibit that. Ashraf Thabet was Deputy Speaker of the People’s Assembly and a party high board member at the same time,” wrote Hammad.
He accused the high board members that ousted Abdel Ghafour of doing so out of the self-interested pursuit of positions within the party and said they deliberately misread the party bylaws, which he said provide no provisions for replacing the chairman the way they did.
Abdel Ghafour had announced the removal of Bakar from the position of spokesperson and that only Hammad and Mohamed Nour were authorised to speak to the media on the party’s behalf. Bakar denied that he was removed from his position.
The party’s secretary-generals in each governorate met on Friday and released a statement on the party’s official website backing the high board’s decision. The matter was put to a vote and 24 out of 27 members voted to endorse Khalifa as the new acting chairman with the Giza general secretary abstaining and the Cairo and Port Said ones voting against.
Khalifa also released a statement on the website as party chairman thanking Abdel Ghafour for his efforts during his tenure as chairman. Another statement was released confirming that internal elections would take place as scheduled.