Egypt's Free Egyptians Party (FEP) has decided to expel founder and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris from the party for not showing up to a meeting to internally investigate the party's latest internal strife.
In statements to Al-Ahram Arabic news website on Wednesday, the party's media affairs chairman Nasr El-Qaffas said the discipline committee had made the decision to oust Sawiris after his absence.
The conflict arose earlier this month when the party's general assembly decided, in Sawiris' absence, to eliminate the party's board of trustees. The move led the businessman to mount a legal challenge against the party's decision.
Sawiris sat on the party's board of trustees.
Shortly after the party's decision to eliminate the board, Sawiris held a press conference in solidarity with party members who had recently been expelled for disagreeing with the current leadership. Sawiris criticised the party's president Essam Khalil, saying that he has turned the party into a "private business that includes his friends and relatives."
Sawiris also called for new elections inside the party, escalating his challenge to the party's leaders.
According to El-Qaffas, the party informed Sawiris of the internal investigation meeting through phone calls, texts, emails, and other means of communication, but could not reach him.
He added that Sawiris knew the date of the internal investigation and abstained on purpose, forcing the committee to sack him in accordance with the party's by-laws.
The party's call for an internal investigation followed a press conference in February where the party accused Sawiris of aiming to "defame the party, its members and its leaders."
Deputy of the board of trustees Ragui Soliman denounced Sawiris' sacking, describing the order as something that could be expected from "from people [party leaders] whose actions lack all rationality. "
Soliman affirmed his support for Sawiris, saying that he was still a member of the party and that the board and other "noble members" whose memberships were frozen stood in solidarity with him.
"We will retrieve our party through the judiciary. We are adamant on our legal position, and we’re sure the Egyptian judiciary would set the record straight. The upcoming days will prove the error of all those who thought the FEP was easy bait," Soliman said, referring to Sawiris' legal action against the party's decisions.