Sawiris calls for new polls in Free Egyptians Party as internal rift heads to court

Ahram Online , Tuesday 14 Feb 2017

Egypt's business tycoon Naguib Sawiris (Photo: Al Ahram)

Naguib Sawiris, the Egyptian business tycoon and founder of the Free Egyptians Party, called on Tuesday for new elections inside his party as he takes his dispute with the current leadership to court.

In a press conference, Sawiris said he rejected the general assembly's recent decision to change its bylaws. He said he regretted putting his trust in the current party's president Essam Khalil, adding that he has turned the party into a "private business that includes his friends and relatives."

Last week, Sawiris mounted a legal challenge against the legality of the general assembly's action and its decision eliminate the party's board of trustees.

"Whoever doesn't see that Egypt deserves a real democracy is the one who doesn't want strong parties with influence in the state," Sawiris said.

The Tuesday press conference was held in solidarity with party members who have recently been expelled for disagreeing with the current leadership.

A statement last week by the party’s board of trustees, which revealed Sawiris’ plans, called on all current and former members who were prevented from renewing their membership to participate in the conference.

"We have to take responsibility for ourselves and our country and admit that the press conference which was held by expelled members from the party was a mistake," Sawiris said on Tuesday, referring to an older press conference that took place in December held by ousted members, where they first announced strife within the party.  

"We respect the judiciary and acknowledge that this will be a long and tiring path [legal path] to take, but we won't be despaired," Sawiris said.

He also affirmed his confidence in the Egyptian judiciary which won't accept ongoing divisions inside the party because it would lead to violations of the party's liberalism and freedom values.

On Monday, a member of the party's political bureau, Nasr El-Qafas, said to Al Ahram Arabic that the party filed an official complaint to general prosecutor Nabil Sadek, informing him that the party has no relation with the Tuesday press conference held by Sawiris. 

"We stressed in our complaint our repudiation of anything that could take place during the press conference," El-Qafas , who also handles the post of the secretary of the media office in the party said.

"We will issue a statement to the public to elaborate the truth and that we are not to be held responsible for everything that would harm the party and the country," he said.

The Free Egyptians Party is the largest political party in the 596-member House of Representatives, with a total of 65 seats.

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