Muslim Brotherhood Party Chiefs Begin the Race for Chairmanship

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Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party — the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood — is bracing for a leadership contest, with several prominent political figures vying for the role of chairman, reports Mustafa Amarah.

The first woman to run for the chairmanship of the Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has expressed confidence in her ability to win the electoral contest.

After collecting her candidacy application form yesterday morning [Oct. 1], Sabah al-Sakkari, assistant secretary-general of the FJP women secretariat in Cairo, said: “I am confident that I possess the qualities of a leader, and I am capable of winning the electoral battle.”

She added that equality between women and men is one of the fundamental principles of the party. She said that she will receive many recommendations for her candidacy from men as well as women.

The party’s chair has been vacant since last June, after former FJP Chairman Mohammed Morsi became Egypt’s president.

Sakkari is running for the chairmanship of the party — which was established by the Muslim Brotherhood after the Jan. 25, 2011 revolution — despite the fact that the party is known for not allowing women to hold leadership positions, both at the lowest administrative levels such as head of division, up to the highest levels such as member of the Guidance Office.

The position of head of the Sisters Division in the group is also held by a man.

Essam el-Erian, vice chairman of the FJP in Egypt, also collected his candidacy application for the party’s chairmanship yesterday morning.

After collecting his candidacy application form at the party’s headquarters in downtown Cairo in the presence of Hussein Ibrahim, head of the FJP Electoral Committee, Erian said that he is running for office out of conviction that each founding member is capable of leading the party to reinforce the foundations of a respectable partisan life.

He noted that members of the party’s General Conference are capable of choosing the most appropriate [candidate], adding that “all of us will support the candidate who wins in the end.”

On his willingness to compete in the election, Erian said: “I received 200 recommendations, even though the party’s regulations only stipulate that I receive at least 100 recommendations.”

He added that he is seeking to get recommendations from all the governorates, even though this is not required by party regulations.

Saad al-Katatni, [former] secretary-general of the party who resigned after heading the dissolved People's Assembly, collected his candidacy application for the party’s leadership yesterday, along with his 100 recommendations.

In the same context, Khaled Aoude, a cassation lawyer and parliamentary official responsible for the southern sector of Cairo, collected his candidacy application and 110 recommendations.

Aoude noted that he is younger than Erian and Katatni, and added he had a “100%” chance of winning. Aoude noted that his candidacy aims to break the rule according to which only prominent figures run for the party’s leadership. This would confirm the democratic nature of the FJP, he said.

In addition to her candidacy form, Sakkari collected 110 recommendations. These recommendations require the signatures of at least 100 members of the FJP General Conference for her to be eligible to run for the election.

The number of members of the FJP General Conference across Egypt is 1,118.

Sakkari said that she will not achieve anything for the party if she wins the chairmanship seat without the help of all of its members. She added that she has consulted with circles close to her, namely Karem Radwan, a member of the committee overseeing the party's presidential election, and has obtained her husband's consent.

If Sakkari manages to finalize her candidacy requirements, Erian and Katatni will be her main opponents. The door is still open for more candidates to run in the election.

Radwan, a member of the committee supervising the FJP presidential election, explained that the party’s internal laws require [each candidate to obtain] 100 recommendations from the approximately 2,000 members of the General Conference [sic]. There are no stipulations related to a particular geographical distribution [of these recommendations].

Radwan added that a member of the General Conference is only entitled to recommend one candidate for the party’s chairmanship.

He said that Katatni’s candidacy for the FJP leadership does not conflict with his holding any position outside the party, noting that there is no law in Egypt that prohibits this. 

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