Egypt: Wafd Party in turmoil

Gamal Essam El-Din , Friday 19 Feb 2021

The Wafd Party chairman expels nine members whom he accuses of conspiring against the party

Wafd party in turmoil
Abu Shoka

On 9 February Egypt’s oldest political party, the Wafd, announced the expulsion of nine senior members, including one member of the House of Representatives and one of the Senate.

Wafd Party Chairman Bahaa Abu Shoka accused the expelled members of conspiring to take over the party. His expulsion decision, however, provoked angry responses within the party. A group of younger members say they will organise a sit-in at the party’s headquarters in Giza on Saturday to protest against Abu Shoka’s undemocratic decisions.

Some members of the Wafd’s Higher Council say Abu Shoka’s decision violates the party’s internal bylaws and they will turn to the courts to overturn the expulsions.

Hussein Mansour, a member of the Higher Council, said party members will not allow Abu Shoka to turn the party into a battleground to settle personal vendettas.

“Abu Shoka is using the Wafd to promote his personal interests,” claimed Mansour. “Not only did he canvas the support of the majority Mostaqbal Watan Party to be named head of the Senate’s Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, he petitioned Mostaqbal Watan to help his daughter secure a seat in the House of Representatives.”

Yasser Al-Hodeibi, the Wafd’s deputy chairman, a Senate member and one of the nine members expelled, revealed that “a majority of Wafd members were about to withdraw confidence in Abu Shoka leading him to make a pre-emptive strike to try and save himself.”

Abu Shoka has claimed “the plotters” were planning to hold a meeting of the party’s Higher Council on 19 February on the pretext of discussing the party’s financial affairs “but with the intention of tabling a vote of no confidence to unseat the chairman”.

Abu Shoka argues the expulsions are in line with party bylaws which give the chairman the authority to protect the party from internal divisions. He accused “the plotters” of waging “a war of rumour and illegal money to carry out their conspiracy”.
Al Hodeibi was joined on the nine-member list by Mohamed Abdel-Alim Dawoud, a member of the Wafd’s Higher Council and the House of the Representatives, Nabil Abdallah, Mohamed Abdou, Tarek Sabak, Himdan Al-Khalili, Hatem Raslan, Mohamed Sweilam, and Hussein Mansour.

Parliament Speaker Hanafi Gibali told MPs on Sunday that he had received a message from Abu Shoka informing him that MP Mohamed Abdel-Alim Dawoud had been expelled from the party and would be replaced as the Wafd’s parliamentary spokesman by MP Suleiman Wahdan. Gibali added that the matter had been referred to parliament’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee for review.

Egypt’s 2014 constitution and the House of Representatives law stipulate that MPs must retain the party affiliation under which they were elected to automatically keep their parliamentary seat. In cases in which affiliation changes they can lose membership of the House if two thirds of MPs agree they be removed.

On 19 January, Gibali referred Dawoud to the Ethics Committee to be questioned over “bad behaviour and misconduct”. Gibali had accused Dawoud of defaming the majority Mostaqbal Watan Party.

Dawoud told reporters last week that recent moves against him, including the Ethics Committee referral, were part of a campaign to contain any real opposition in parliament.

“All I did was request an investigation into allegations that election bribes were paid,” said Dawoud. “I am sure that Abu Shoka is acting on the orders of outside forces who want to kill my political future and make sure parliament has no opposition voices.”

*A version of this article appears in print in the 18 February, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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