Thursday, 5 May 2011

Egypt: The Muslim Brotherhood has formed a new political party

Egypt's largest religiously-inspired political organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, has formed a political party for the first time since it was founded in the 1920s. Over the past 80 odd years it was variously suppressed by the State or forced to live in the shadows. The Freedom and Justice Party (hizb il-hurriya w'il-adala) will be the vehicle by which it contests parliamentary elections, due in the autumn. The Muslim Brotherhood has already said it will contest up to half the seats, though it will not field a candidate for the presidential elections due later in the year.

It is not clear how different the party will be ideologically and organisationally from the Muslim Brotherhood . Secretary General of the Brotherhood Mahmoud Hussein declared that "this party will be independent from the Brotherhood but will co-ordinate with it."

Parties which are based on religion continue to be banned, although few will distinguish between the Freedom and Justice Party and its progenitor.

Some of the younger members of the Muslim Brotherhood have already raised objections to the way in which the leadership of the party was chosen. The decision was taken by the Shura Council of the Brotherhood rather than by an election of the founding members of the party.

The Shura Council named Mohamed Morsy as the chairman of the party, Dr Essam El-Erian as his deputy and Dr Mohamed Saad El-Ketatney as the party's secretary general. The three were obliged to renounce their positions on the Guidance Council of the Muslim Brotherhood , in an attempt to show a distinction between the Brotherhood and the party it has spawned.

El-Erian defended the decision to make appointments directly rather than through elections, saying time was pressing if the party was actively to contest parliamentary elections in the autumn.

El-Ketatny said El-Ketatny said they are finalising all the paperwork. "We will wait for a month as scheduled by the committee then we will start the activities of our party."

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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