Dismissed Egyptian Labor Party Leader Refuses to Go Quietly
By Mohamad Baali
Albawaba.com – Cairo
The Islamist secretary general of Egypt’s badly divided Labor Party on Tuesday dismissed party leader Ibrahim Shukri’s attempt to dismiss him and ten of his allies from the executive committee.
Magdi Hussein told Albawaba.com that parties in Egypt were not “private farms” owned by their leaders, where they could do whatever they wanted.
“If individual decisions and personal whims dominate the opposition parties, there will be no difference between these parties and the oppressive government,” said Hussein. “The party general conference elected the executive committee, and therefore it is the only body authorized to expel any member.”
Hussein said there were indications that Shukri would “withdraw his decision, including his remarks to the BBC that the said decision was taken by General Tala’t Harb, the party’s second-in-command, and not by Shukri himself.”
However, party sources said that Shukri’s latest decisions were part of a deal with the government to permit the party to operate, minus its Islamist activists.
The deal was reportedly arranged with the secretary general of the ruling National Democratic Party, Yousef Wali, and the Egyptian minister of agriculture, one of Hussein’s rivals.
Hussein has blasted the minister on the pages of the party’s Al Shaab newspaper, landing him in prison on two occasions.
The sources added that the deal was concluded via the leader of Al Wafd Party, Noman Juma’h.
Albawaba.com was told that the executive committee dominated by Hussein’s supporters would be holding a meeting next week to discuss Shukri’s decisions and respond to them.
Meanwhile, the Middle East News Agency said on Monday that 105 members of the party general conference had signed a statement demanding that Hussein and his supporters be investigated.
According to the statement, “people expressed their resentment against the actions taken by this separatist group last Sunday, including their accusations and offenses against the party and its legal leadership.”
The Labor Party leadership crisis has recently intensified, following Shukri’s decision to appoint Hamed Zaidan as editor-in-chief of Al Shaab, to replace Hussein.
The executive committee responded by appointing Tala’t Remaih, a Hussein ally, as the editor-in-chief, and making Mahfouze Azzam the party deputy leader.
Azzam is well known for his historic ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Egyptian Labor Party has been banned for about one year. The government’s decision to ban the party followed a press campaign launched by Al Shaab against Syrian writer Haidar Haidar’s novel A Banquet of Seaweed, which ignited violent demonstrations at Al Azhar University.
The demonstrations developed into clashes between the students and the security forces, injuring hundreds from both sides.