CAIRO, Egypt, AP -Prosecutors on Monday released a prominent opposition figure who was detained early this month after a fight with his rivals at party headquarters.
Noaman Gomaa, 71, walked free on bail from the Cairo hospital where he was admitted after complaining of heart problems, prosecutors said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.
Gomaa’s detention had meant that both leading candidates who ran against President Hosni Mubarak in September elections — Egypt’s first presidential election open to multiple candidates — were in custody.
Gomaa and 14 supporters were arrested after a daylong brawl with his political rivals at the Wafd Party offices in Giza. At least 28 people were wounded and the offices were set on fire.
Prosecutors were considering charges against Gomaa including intimidation and incitement to riot.
On Monday, prosecutors said they were ordering Gomaa’s release on $1,745 bail because they were finished questioning him and he was in poor health. Gomaa led the Wafd, a liberal party, for the past six years. But after he finished a poor third in September’s presidential elections, rivals successfully challenged him for the party leadership.
The second-place finisher in the presidential election, Ayman Nour of the Ghad party, is serving a five-year prison term for forgery, charges he said were trumped up to eliminate him from politics.
The Wafd infighting underscored the deterioration of Egypt’s secular opposition parties after the success of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood in parliamentary elections of November and December.
The Brotherhood drew far more votes than the secular opposition parties, proving itself the only serious challenger to Mubarak’s National Democratic Party.