By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: In its official inauguration of its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Muslim Brotherhood’s Shoura Council said the party will contest 45-50 percent of seats in the up-coming People’s Assembly elections slated for September.
The council, which met over the past two days in the group’s headquarters in Moqattam, east of Cairo, will not field a candidate for the presidential elections nor support members who run as independents.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is not seeking majority, we will seek a maximum of 50 percent of the seats and will have a meeting with other national powers to coordinate the mechanisms of undergoing the elections through a unified national roster,” said Saad Al-Katatney, prominent MB leader and newly appointed Secretary General of the Party, in a press conference Saturday.
Veteran MB leader Mohamed Morsy was appointed chairman, and Essam El-Erian deputy chairman of the FJP.
The group called on national powers to agree to the MB’s Supreme Guide Mohamed Badei’s initiative, known as the “Initiative for Egypt,” to compete under a unified roster in the upcoming elections.
“We don’t seek a majority because the MB wants to emphasize the people’s authority in this phase and we took into consideration the regional and international climate while taking this decision,” said El-Erian.
The MB had previously announced that they only aim to contest one third of seats in parliament.
The group said they will decide later on whether they will support one of the current presidential hopefuls.
The MB’s Shoura Council also approved the program and the internal bylaws of the FJP.
“The MB is a comprehensive Islamic entity and political activity is part of its program; the political party will be a tool for political work and aims at relaying the group’s message,” said a statement by the council.
The statement said that the new party will enjoy complete financial and administrative independence from the Muslim Brotherhood group but will “coordinate” with it.
Al-Katatney said that the newly appointed leaders were chosen from among the MB’s Shoura Council for a “transitional” period, but they will be elected by the general assembly in the future.
“Any party has the right to seek support through coalitions and coordination with other political powers and any party that doesn’t coordinate with the MB with its historic and strategic value is missing a great chance so it is logical for the new party to coordinate with the group as any other party,” El-Erian said.
However, MB leaders refused to respond to a question on whether the party will field candidates separate from the group’s in the legislative elections and whether it will field a presidential candidate, saying “it is too early to talk about this topic.”
According to the group’s bylaws, while Brotherhood members are not obliged to join the party, they are not allowed to join any other political party.
The group said the FJP will have an Islamic frame of reference but is a civilian party and not a theocratic traditional religious party.
The MB is set to officially inaugurate its new headquarters on May 21.