New blood at the Bar Association

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 6 Sep 2022

Pro-government politician Abdel-Halim Allam is the new head of the Bar Association, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

New blood at the Bar Association


Abdel-Halim Allam was elected head of the Lawyers’ Syndicate after a landslide victory on Sunday. Allam, who heads the syndicate’s branch in Alexandria, won 25,276 votes. The runner up, Nabil Abdel-Salam, head of the Ismailia Syndicate branch, won 15,000 votes.

Allam, 59, a graduate of Alexandria University’s Faculty of Law, was born in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Sohag. In 2010 he was elected to the People’s Assembly, becoming head of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee. He has served as the head of the syndicate’s branch in Alexandria since 2012. ≠≠

“I am a former member of parliament and have been active in the syndicate for 30 years. I think this gives me a lot of experience that I can use to improve the living conditions of lawyers across Egypt,” Allam said following his election. He added that he would turn to veteran lawyers and seek their advice, “especially in the area of amending the law regulating the performance of the profession”.

Allam also heads For the Sake of Egypt, an NGO established in 2016 by members of the pro-regime Mostaqbal Watan Party which seeks to prepare young people to be future political, administrative, and business leaders.

Allam’s victory, say commentators, was practically guaranteed when his two main rivals, Sameh Ashour and Montasser Al-Zayat, were excluded from the ballot by the Administrative Justice Court one week ahead of voting day.

Ashour, a Nasserist politician and appointed member of the Senate, served three terms as head of the syndicate between 2001 and 2020. He was excluded on the grounds that he had not resigned from the Senate as stipulated by the constitution. Ashour reacted to his exclusion by filing an appeal with the Supreme Administrative Court, asking that the election be postponed until the appeal is settled.

Ashour told the court that he had decided to contest the syndicate elections only after he had submitted a resignation request to the Senate and was petitioning for a re-run of the contest.

Al-Zayat, 66, is a high-profile Islamist lawyer who was arrested in 1981 following the assassination of president Anwar Al-Sadat. Al-Zayat also appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court but his petition was rejected on 30 August.

“I was disqualified from contesting the election on the grounds I have insulted the judiciary, which is untrue,” said Al-Zayat.

Magdy Sakhi, the acting head of the Bar Association, said that if the Supreme Administrative Court rules in favour of Ashour a new election will take place.

There was a consensus among commentators that the exclusion of Ashour and Al-Zayat contributed to a low turnout. The judicial committee overseeing the poll said turnout in Cairo, Alexandria, and most Nile-Delta governorates was at best average, and outside these areas was low.

The last time the Bar Association held an election was in 2020 when Ragaai Attia, head of the Arab Lawyers’ Union, won. The latest vote was sparked following Attia’s death in March, at the age of 84, while attending a court session.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 8 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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