Nour Party might bury hatchet with breakaway party in parliamentary polls

Sherif Tarek , Wednesday 9 Jan 2013

Targeting 100 per cent of seats, Egypt's Salafist Nour Party could welcome electoral alliance with breakaway group – Watan Party – and Muslim Brotherhood, according to spokesman Nader Bakkar

Nader Bakkar, official spokesman of salafist Nour Party (Photo: Al-Ahram)

The Salafist Nour Party is mulling a possible electoral alliance with several Islamist forces ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections, including with the Watan (homeland) Party which was newly founded and joined by breakaway members of the Nour Party itself.

"No final decisions have been made," spokesman Nader Bakkar, who is now the most prominent figure in the Nour Party after the recent mass resignations, told Ahram Online.

"But some names are suggested for an electoral alliance such as [Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's] Building and Development Party, Strong Egypt [founded by former presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh], and the Watan Party," he added without elaboration.

Nour was dealt a blow by the resignation of 150 members in December, including former chairman Emad El-Din Abdel-Ghafour, who announced last week the launch of the Watan Party.

What reportedly led to the split was a conflict between Abdel-Ghafour, who was leader of a so-called reformist front within the party during his last few months as chairman, and followers of cleric Yasser El-Borhami – one of the founders of the Salafist Call group.

One day before Abdel-Ghafour officially unveiled the Watan Party, the Salafist Call – the movement that originally spawned the Nour Party in 2011 – stated it would not support any party other than its own political arm.

Bakkar, however, stressed that an agreement between both parties was not to be ruled out. "We shall have coordination with several parties, and alliances with others," he explained. "We are still considering all our options. The Watan Party is on our initial list of possible allies."

Fresh Brotherhood pact?

In last winter's parliamentary polls, the Nour Party – so far the most influential Salafist party in Egypt – led an alliance of Islamist political parties that won the second largest number of seats in the now-dissolved lower chamber of parliament, the People's Assembly.

The alliance, known as the Islamic Bloc, included the ultra-conservative Building and Development Party and the Salafist Asala Party.

Weeks before the formation of the bloc, Nour, along with the Building and Development and Asala, defected from the Democratic Alliance for Egypt, which was led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and justice Party (FJP).

The trio opted to form their own coalition only weeks before the elections began in protest at their paltry shares on the FJP-led alliance's electoral lists. The Brotherhood's political wing went on to win 47 per cent of the seats in the poll.

On whether the Nour Party could once again work with the FJP in another electoral alliance, Bakkar briefly said, "Again, this option is also under consideration.

"Before taking a final decision on our electoral pacts, we have to wait until the new electoral law is passed, in order to know how the system will work."

Discussions are still underway at the Legislative Committee of the Shura Council (parliament's upper house, controlled by an FJP majority) over the draft electoral law, which was introduced by a number of politicians and legislative experts a few days ago.

"And of course we will also choose our allies based on our views and goals," Bakkar added, before revealing that like the FJP, the Nour Party is aiming to contest 100 per cent of the seats.


"We are not seeking to rule the country, but we want to manage it," he explained. "I think the state lacks management in this critical phase [of political turmoil and economic difficulties], and thus we will contest 100 per cent of parliamentary seats."

The People's Assembly was dissolved last June by the then ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which assumed power for a year and a half after former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled during the 2011 uprising.

Boasting executive authority, the SCAF dissolved parliament's lower chamber pursuant to a verdict by the High Constitutional Court (HCC) declaring the law that regulated the parliamentary elections unconstitutional.

President Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, tried to reinstate the People's Assembly through a presidential decree last year, only to see his decision overturned by the HCC, also for being "unconstitutional."

The coming elections for the House of Representatives (the former People's Assembly and the most important house of parliament that will hold legislative powers) should be called for by President Morsi within three month of the constitution coming into effect.

Morsi ratified the constitution last month.

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