Islamist Al-Wasat Party says national unity trumps Brotherhood alliance
Ahram Online, Thursday 28 Aug 2014
Long-time Muslim Brotherhood supporter Al-Wasat Party pulls out of Islamist alliance, says political cohesion only way to further 'revolution' and take back 'stolen rights'


The moderate Islamist Al-Wasat Party, one of the most prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood-led National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL), withdrew from the coalition on Thursday, citing the need to be part of a wider alliance.



"The priorities of the current stage embodied in resisting tyranny through a democratic transition will achieve the goals of the 25 January revolution through a true national partnership," the party said on Thursday in a statement. "Such priorities necessitate working outside the framework of the NASL and establishing an inclusive national umbrella."



As such, the umbrella should include all national political forces, the statement said, especially since "the popular and revolutionary struggle has transcended all existing fronts and alliances ... and has become expressive of the various needs and aspirations of the people."



Al-Wasat's top leadership is currently in jail, including the party's president Abul-Ela Mady and its deputy Essam Sultan, charged with crimes related to suspected Brotherhood-directed violence after the popularly-backed ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by the army in July 2013.



Despite the withdrawal, the party insists Morsi's overthrow was a "coup" and said it had hoped the crisis would've been solved through political means.



The party said it had kept an open mind about all dialogue attempts to reach a resolution as well as all peaceful means of struggle – deeming any other means "threatening to the revolutionary movement and detrimental to its gains."



"This obligates political and revolutionary forces to close ranks and widen their scope to express the cohesion of the people and be able to take back the nation's freedoms and stolen rights," the statement said.


Violence spiked in Egypt after Morsi's ouster and the bloody dispersal of two NASL sit-ins, as militant groups carried out attacks against army and police personnel, killing hundreds.



Meanwhile, security forces cracked down on Morsi's supporters, arresting thousands and killing hundreds. The Brotherhood, now officially labelled a terrorist organisation, has repeatedly denied links to the violence.



Al-Wasat distanced itself from Morsi in its statement, saying the political biases of the party were never in favour of the ousted president himself – "despite our respect and appreciation of him" – or any other political faction.



The group's former spokesman Tarek El-Malt was disciplined in May for having talks with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) without the leadership's approval. El-Malt claimed the decision was a result of the party's resistance towards engaging in political dialogue, which he said he was attempting to start.



The group's leaders were prominent Brotherhood supporters, making regular appearances at the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in before its dispersal.



Sultan – the party's jailed deputy – was an outspoken MP in the Brotherhood-majority parliament dissolved by court order in 2012.



Deputy spokesman of the party Mohamed Mahsoub, who is in self-exile in Qattar, served as parliamentary affairs minister in the first Brotherhood cabinet, but eventually resigned due to differences with then-prime minister Hisham Qandil.



Al-Wasat was founded in 1989 as a breakway splinter from the Muslim Brotherhood. It gained official recognition from the state as a party in the aftermath of the 25 January revolution.



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