By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: A senior official of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) said the group would expel any member who runs for president, after a leading Brotherhood reformer was quoted as saying he might stand.
MB member Abdel-Moniem Aboul-Fotouh earlier announced in media statements his intention to run for president, a decision that stirred controversy after the Brotherhood had recurrently said it would not field any presidential candidates. Neither would the group support any member who ran as independent.
The reformist physician said he had tentatively decided to run but would reserve his final decision until the law regulating presidential elections is drafted.
“Any member of the Muslim Brotherhood who nominates himself for the presidency will be expelled, because it is a violation of the Brotherhood’s collective decision,” said Sobhi Saleh, lawyer and senior MB official.
Political analyst Nabil Abdel-Fatah said Friday he ruled out the possibility that the MB would eventually support the presidential candidacy of Aboul-Fotouh.
“The Brotherhood may [instead] enter into a deal with the ruling army council or the transitional forces that compete over the presidential seats in return for a considerable percentage of the People’s Assembly (the Lower-House of the Parliament) seats,” said Abdel-Fatah, deputy head of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
“That is why there are several scenarios ahead of us that include gaining an influential stake in the assembly and backing a candidate who conforms to their demands,” Abdel-Fatah told Daily News Egypt.
Aboul-Fatouh, the author of “A Witness to the History of Egypt’s Islamic Movement,” is secretary general of the Arab Medical Union. He also served on the MB guidance council for 25 years.
Abdel-Fatah believes that if Aboul-Fetouh runs for president, he will probably gain considerable support being known for his modernity and reform pursuit.
“I don’t personally support the MB … [But] voting for him will be for a moderate trend of the political Islam not for an MB member,” he said.
“Aboul-Fetouh belongs to a middle class family living in an urban society, the cosmopolitan community of Cairo, which makes him different from MB members and Islamists coming from the countryside and Upper Egypt,” Abdel-Fatah added.
Rumors recently said that Aboul-Fetouh resigned from the Brotherhood after he defied the group’s decision to stay away from the presidential polls.
Yet he said last month during an interview with ON TV’s talk show Akher Kalam that if he decided to run for president, he would quit the group on the administrative level not on the ideological one and join the competition as independent.
“We have been clear about our stance towards presidential elections. We will neither field a candidate nor support the candidacy of any group member. Or else it would look as if we fooled the people,” deputy MB head Rashad Bayoumy told DNE.
“We will not even support a former member in his candidacy. We call for reform. We don’t seek official posts,” he added.
According to Bayoumy, in case Aboul-Fetouh runs for president, his status in the group will be undecided for a while.
“If a member violates the Brotherhood decision … he may be considered as having resigned,” Bayoumy said.
Recent press reports said that the Brotherhood, which recently formed Justice and Freedom political party to contest up to half of the seats in parliamentary elections scheduled for September, has already begun investigating members, mainly youths, who joined Aboul-Fetouh’s campaign.
Bayoumy said the Brotherhood has not yet agreed on a candidate to support.
“It all depends on the electoral program and the adopted trends of each candidate,” he said.
In the group’s official inauguration of Freedom and Justice Party on April 30, the MB Shoura Council said the party will contest 45-50 percent of seats in the upcoming PA elections slated for September.
“When we seek 35 percent of the parliamentary seats, we need to field a bigger number to realize this target,” Bayoum argued.
However, Abdel-Fatah speculates that MB will seek a more aggressive competition.
“Those who want to compete over 45 or 50 percent of seats will at least field candidates covering 75 or 80 percent of PA, some of them may not announce their belonging to the MB,” Abdel-Fatah said.
The Brotherhood, which was legally banned before a revolt overthrew president Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, has been seeking an Islamic state achieved through peaceful means.
In the past, the group registered its parliamentary candidates as independents to circumvent a ban on the group in particular and religious parties in general. –Additional reporting by AFP