Egyptian billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris announced on Saturday that he would launch a legal challenge against a decision by the general assembly of the Free Egyptians Party, which he co-founded in 2011, to change its bylaws.
On Friday, the liberal-oriented party decided at its annual general assembly - in the absence of Sawiris - to eliminate the party’s board of trustees, among other changes to the party's bylaws.
Naguib Sawiris is one of the most prominent members of the board of trustees.
“The general assembly’s meeting to amend the bylaws violates Article 59 of the bylaws themselves, which stipulate the board of trustees must approve any bylaw amendments,” the board of trustees said in its statement issued on Saturday afternoon.
Describing it as a “coup”, the board of trustees added that it will pursue its legal rights via the party's internal mechanisms and also via the Egyptian legal system.
“Now we are going to court,” Sawiris announced on his official Twitter account on Saturday.
According to local news reports, 620 party members voted in favour of amending the bylaws during the general assembly while only 25 voted against.
“The board of trustees declares its full rejection of the illegal coup by those who claim to be working for the interest of the country, without realising that Egypt’s main project at this stage is to fully complete the democratic transition,” read the board of trustees’ statement.
The Free Egyptians Party is the largest political party in the 596-member House of Representatives, with a total of 65 seats.
It is currently headed by Essam Khalil, who was elected as the party leader last year.
Sawiris publicly expressed his rejection of the assembly's decisions in a series of tweets on Saturday.
“Everybody knows that I withdrew quietly for the lack of satisfaction in general [with the party] and so I am amazed. Why fabricate a battle in the party at this particular time and for what reason?” Sawiris wrote on Twitter, in Arabic.
Shehab Wagih, the official spokesperson of the party, could not be reached for comment.