Algerian Islamists Sign Unity Charter

Article Summary
Leaders of the Algerian Front for Change and the Movement for the Society of Peace have signed a unity charter, with the aim of bringing Algeria together, writes Othman Lehiani.

President of the Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP) Bouguerra Soltani and head of the Algerian Front for Change (FC) Abdelmadjid Menasra signed a unity charter, according to which former members of the FC would rejoin the MSP. The agreement came after a committee succeeded in reconciling the two parties ahead of the movement’s fifth conference to be held in May.

The signing ceremony, entitled “Unity among followers of the school of the late Sheikh Mahfoud Nahnah,” was held on March 26 in the capital at the house of Hajj Aziz, one of MSP's leaders.

The charter of common principles stated that “all parties are aware of the need for the nation to gather its capability and unite its efforts based on legal duties and realistic requirements, and provide a more relaxed environment to serve the Islamic call and carry out national duties, in order to complete the building of the nation, meet the hopes of activists, and respond to the initiatives of scholars, preachers and personalities to unite ranks and unify the movement.”

The charter called for “achieving unity and applying it according to the [movement’s] approach, set of values ​​and ideas, in order to serve the broader project and interests of religion, the people and the nation, through deliberation and consensus on all decisions that reinforce unity.” It also called for “establishing a committee representing the two parties to implement these general principles, with the contribution of those who came up with the initiative. This committee would be in charge of managing all discussions to achieve full unity, including the role of the [new figures of change] in the fifth conference of the movement scheduled in May. They would also discuss how to integrate them into the movement’s local and central structures.”

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The unity meeting — which was mediated by a reconciliation committee headed by Abdul Hamid Madawid, a founding leader of the movement — was said to be positive, during which the parties agreed to open a new chapter, without setting conditions but keeping all positive options open. The meeting, which was attended by 19 leaders, lasted around two hours.

An official source in the movement said that “the unity came as a result of the last meeting between Soltani and Menasra held in Ankara, Turkey, on the sidelines of the Turkish Felicity Party forum in commemoration of the death of Turkish leader Necmettin Erbakan, with a significant contribution from Mauritanian religious scholar Muhammad Hassan Ould Deddew. Soltani demonstrated flexibility and made major concessions to achieve the unity project.”

Farouk Tayfour, a member of the movement’s national bureau, told El-Khabar that “the signed charter of general principles is a foundation for continuous dialogue between the two parties, which was reached through the contribution of the reconciliation committee represented by Madawid and Hajj Aziz.” He noted that “the details and ways to implement unity were entrusted to a joint committee between the two parties, which is working to provide the appropriate emotional and practical atmosphere, centrally and locally, to achieve unity.”

Tayfour said that “the fifth conference will be an opportunity to reinforce unity as we are convinced that the strategy of dividing Islamic parties will not succeed. We have paid the price of division, and unity comes with a price as well.”

In the same context, Soltani and Menasra issued a joint letter on March 26 to Mustafa Belmehdi, leader of the National Building Movement, calling on him to support the unity efforts.

The letter stated: “We have responded to the mediation initiative to achieve the reunification of the group over the [general] approach [of the movement]. We met with a group of brothers and hoped that you, our big brother, would be there to sponsor and bless this historic meeting in order to achieve unity among all those who believe in it, particularly the leading brothers representing the MSP and the FC. There was a convergence and consensus to achieve unity over the [general] approach and principles.”

The letter called on Belmehdi to assume his moral and historic responsibility of joining the unity project: “Since you and the brothers who initiated the mediation — after contacting you and before meeting with us — mainly aim to restore the unity of the [Muslim Brotherhood] rather than [agree on the general] approach, God has been helpful to us. Once again, we urge you to support the course of this blessed unity, which has ended disagreement and led to partnership and convergence under the banner of the late founder Sheikh Mahfoud Nahnah who brought us together.”

Soltani and Menasra announced that “we are ready and will continue this unity [project], as dictated by our religion, morals, the call, and the movement. Thus, set a date for us to meet with you next week so we can all meet together, unite ranks, and realize the strength of our brothers and our desired association.”

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Found in: islamists, algerian parties meeting, algeria
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