Members dissent during Brotherhood presidential candidate's campaign stop

Ahram Online, Tuesday 3 Apr 2012

During Khairat El-Shater's first internal forum, he finds a warm welcome by some, as well as internal dissent by others on why nominate a presidential candidate now - and why him

Deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Khairat el Shater (Photo: Reuters)

Khairat El-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood's nominee in Egypt's presidential race, held his first conference on Monday.

The forum was held in the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) branch in Misr Al-Qadima, Cairo.

El-Shater resigned on Saturday as the Brotherhood's deputy supreme guide to run for presidency.

While the crowd cheered, surprisingly, tens of Brotherhood supporters expressed their rejection of the leadership decision to run El-Shater for the country's highest executive office.

The Muslim Brotherhood had vowed on 10 February, 2011 not to field a candidate, but in a spate with Egypt's ruling military council, they are now seeking to shore up their power by competing for the presidential seat, on top of holding majority in parliament. 

The complaints were two-pronged.

Firstly, opponents of the decision to field a Brotherhood candidate for president do not want the group to appear to be dominating politics more than they already are.

In fact, this about-face on the part of the Brotherhood to suddenly field a candidate has led many in the media to criticise the group's latest move.

Secondly, critics also complain the Brotherhood could have supported ex-fellow Muslim Brotherhood member, Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh, who is a well known public figure, not El-Shater, who, they perceive, is less known and also less likely to win. 

Many members continue to question the decision the Brotherhood took in the first place last year to expel Abul-Fotouh from the Muslim Brotherhood after he defied the group's official policyby announcing his candidacy.

However, Ahmed Abu Barakah, a leading FJP member and an MP defended the group's decision to run El-Shater.

Barakah argued the group had decided not to run a candidate last year because it was not the right decision at the time.

Barakah also said the decision to part with the Brotherhood was taken by Abul-Fotouh.

Barakah argued, moreover, the decision to field El-Shater was democratically reached by a vote of 56 - 52 within the Shura Council.

El-Shater, a multimillionaire, has unrivalled leverage within the Islamist group as well as its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party. He also enjoys enormous influence over the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau and Shura Council, the two most powerful bodies within the group.

Abul-Fotouh is a practicing physician with extensive experience in relief work on an international level, a prominent Islamist activist, and is also known for his relatively liberal positions on social issues.

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