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Wafd Party's internal political crisis deepens

Wafd Party's internal political crisis deepens more as the suspended high board members calling for the withdrawal of confidence from party leader Siyad Badawy are banned from entering party's HQ.

Ahram Online , Thursday 7 May 2015
Sayed EL-Badouy and Fouad Badrawy

The internal political crisis rocking Egypt's oldest liberal party "Al-Wafd" continued to deepen this week, as eight suspended high board members called for a withdrawal of confidence in party leader El-Sayid El-Badawy.

On Wednesday, El-Badawy failed to appear before the party's high board to answer questions in an internal investigation.

Ahmed Ouda, the head of the committee assigned to investigate members recently suspended by the party's high board said none of the eight attended the Wednesday meeting.

In a statement to Ahram Arabic website, Ouda said that according to the party's bylaws, the suspended members would be informed to attend the investigation being held by the committee next Wednesday in Cairo.  

"If they do not show up again next Wednesday, the high board will take a decision according to the party's bylaws, meaning that the members will be expelled from party." 

Last week, at least 1200 members of Wafd Party, including leading members in the centre right faction, convened in Sharqiya governorate, declaring that they have withdrawn confidence in the party's current leader El-Badawy for abusing his powers and maintaining absolute authority over all party decisions.

Wafd Party bylaws state that the signatures of only 500 members are necessary to withdraw confidence in the party’s head. 

In retaliation, an emergency high board meeting was convened at the party’s headquarters in Giza where El-Badawi announced that the eight high board members that lead the meeting in Sharkiya , including Fouad Badrawy and Essam Sheha, were suspended and would be referred to investigation. 

The party's high committee also issued a decision on Tuesday to ban the suspended members from entering the Wafd Party headquarters in case of another escalation.   

Fouad Badrawy, the leading Wafd member who is spearheading the movement against El-Badawi and one of the suspended members, described the decision as "stupid", in a statement to Ahram Arabic website on Wednesday.  

The former MP also refused to stand in front of the committee assigned by the party's high board to investigate the suspended members on Wednesday because he believed it was biased.

"The decision to form this committee was null and void in the first place and so are its decisions," he said, adding that he and other suspended members were holding meetings to discuss their future plans.  

"Wafd Party is not owned by El-Badawy or the high board, their decision does not oblige me," Badrawy said. 

Badrawy also announced that he did not care much about statements from party's officials in regards to dismissing the suspended members for boycotting the investigation committee.  

Badrawy, a leading veteran member of Al-Wafd party and a former member of parliament, ran against El-Sayid El-Badawy in the party's leadership elections in April 2014.

Badrawy, who comes from a family with strong Wafd roots, received 956 votes, while El-Siyad El-Badawy received 1183 votes. 

Essam Sheha, another suspended high board member, denied rumours that the suspended members were planning to found a new party, in statements to Ahram Arabic news website.  

He also added that Wafd Party was facing a "tough time," and the party and its candidates would pay the price in the upcoming parliamentary elections because of the "stubbornness" of El-Badawy.  

According to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the parliamentary elections in Egypt would be held before the end of 2015.

Egypt's parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for March and April, have been indefinitely postponed until relevant electoral laws are redrafted, after the high constitutional court declared them “unconstitutional.”

In April, Wafd Party leader El-Badawy announced his party's withdrawal from the "For the Love of Egypt" electoral list, stating that it was being advertised as "The state's list", something which he and his party refused to be associated with, as Wafd party is "not pro or against the government."

Not the first internal fight  

This is not the first internal fight to shake Egypt's oldest liberal party in the last 10 years. 

In January 2006, Wafd Party leader Noman Gomaa was ousted from his position when the high board committee withdrew confidence in him, and appointed Mahmoud Abaza as an interim leader.

Gomaa rejected the decision and started a sit-in at the party's headquarter. 

The situation escalated violently when thugs appeared at Wafd headquarters and a fire erupted in the building.  

The high board accused Gomaa of using thugs, and he returned the charge.

Nevertheless, the crisis ended when the party held elections and chose Mahmoud Abaza.  

In May 2010, Abaza lost the leadership of the party to businessman tycoon El-Badawy.

Mahmoud Abaza, Fouad Badrawy and Essam Sheha already have composed what they consider the reform oriented movement inside the liberal party.  

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