Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – On Saturday, Egypt’s al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya revealed it may dissolve its alliance with the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood group, because the Brotherhood overlooked al-Gama’a’s leadership when it came to President Mohammed Mursi appointing his advisers and nominating provincial governors.
Dr Safwat Abdel-Ghani, the head of the political bureau of al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya’s Construction and Development Party, told Asharq Al-Awsat that his party would now be compelled to enter the upcoming parliamentary elections as a separate entity. His statement came a day after Essam Dirbalah, the head of the al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya Shura Council, intensified his criticism of the Brotherhood group. However, through the statements of Dr. Farid Ismail, a member of the Freedom and Justice Party’s executive bureau, the Brotherhood has played down the significance of this dispute.
Over the past few days the Egyptian President has ratified the nominations of the Shura Council (the second chamber in the Egyptian parliament) for the memberships of a number of national councils, and for a partial reshuffle of provincial governors. The President had earlier appointed a team of advisers that did not contain any leaders of al-Gama’a.
Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, a grouping of Muslim leaders who adopted violence at one stage during the 1990s, has accused the Brotherhood and its political party of adopting a policy of exclusion. Dr Abdel-Ghani said his party will enter the upcoming parliamentary elections – expected at the end of the current year – as a separate entity because of the way it has been ignored by the Freedom and Justice Party during the recent period.
In statements to Asharq al-Awsat, Abdel-Ghani added that al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya has recently felt that its leadership has been undermined by the Muslim Brotherhood’s party. As evidence, he cited “the fact that no elements from al-Gama’a were included in President Mursi’s advisory team or in the governor reshuffle, even though al-Gama’a had proposed its candidates to the President.”
Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya established its political party, the Construction and Development Party, after the January 25th revolution. Observers claim it has adopted stances that are more revolutionary than those of the Muslim Brotherhood, especially concerning its relationship with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which administered the country’s affairs over the past 18 months. Nevertheless the Construction and Development Party supported the Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammed Mursi, in the runoff round of the presidential elections against General Ahmed Shafik, the last Prime Minister under Mubarak’s reign.
Abdel-Ghani revealed that al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya is most incensed by the way in which it was ignored during the formation of the National Council for Human Rights. He claimed that al-Gama’a had specifically asked to be represented in that council “being the faction that was most persecuted by the former regime. 30,000 of its members were arrested, 200 of whom died in prison due to torture and disease.” Abdel-Ghani insisted that al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya “does not want any form of duality in its dealings, and rejects the concept of any faction controlling or securing a hegemony over power in the state. There must be genuine participation, considering that this was one of the major objectives of the January 25th revolution.”
Essam Dirbalah has lately intensified his criticisms of the Brotherhood group. During a public rally in the southern province of Asyut last Friday, he declared that al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya will stand against “the Brotherhoodization of the state”, and will not allow the Brotherhood to control power.
Meanwhile, leaders within the Muslim Brotherhood have sought to play down the significance of the differences with al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya. Dr. Farid Ismail said that the issue “was much simpler than is being portrayed”, and that this current crisis should not be dwelled upon.