Egypt’s Brotherhood Elects New Executive Body

Egypt’s Brotherhood Elects New Executive Body
CAIRO – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition group, elected Monday, December 21, a new executive body dominated by conservatives, a move seen as a coup d’etat against the reformist camp inside the movement.

“Thank God, the elections were conducted in an appropriate way despite our circumstances,” Brotherhood leader Mohamed Mahdi Akef said in a statement on the group’s website.

The group elected 16 new members to its 18-member executive body known as Guidance Bureau.

“(The list is made up) of the leaders of the conservative trend,” Amr Shoubaky, an analyst with Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The new lineup features Dr. Brotherhood Secretary-General Mohmoud Ezzat, Dr. Mohamed Badei, Saad Al-Kattatni, Mohamed Mursi and Essam El-Erian.

But heavyweight reformists such as the Brotherhood’s number two Mohamed Habib and prominent leader Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futuh were absent in the new lineup.

The new elections were marred by divisions as some senior members argue that the poll violate the Brotherhood’s internal rules.

But most members of the group’s Guidance Bureau, which is responsible for mapping policies, agreed to go ahead.

“The opinion of the majority was that the elections to the Guidance Bureau be carried out now,” said Akef.

The elections were the first for the Guidance Bureau in 14 years.

The 1995 elections instigated a government crackdown and the first military trial for the Brotherhood during the rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood will elect a new leader within days to replace Akef, who will step down when his term ends in January.

Coup d’etat


The new Bureau line-up is seen as an end to the reformist trend inside the Brotherhood, weakening its chances in next year’s parliamentary elections.

“These results indicate an internal coup d’etat against the reformist camp of the Brotherhood,” political analyst Khalil El-Anani told Reuters.

“Most of the new members are over 50 years old and there is no representation of Brotherhood’s youth.”

Shoubaky, the analyst at Al-Ahram Center, agrees.

“(The divisions are likely) to lessen the brotherhood’s political weight and weaken its participation in the 2010 parliamentary elections,” he told AFP.

He said the conservative trend dominating the movement is more focused on the religious aspects and is not in touch with the political reality on the ground.

“(Whereas) Habib and Abul-Futuh played a very important role in the last legislative elections.”

Diaa Rashwan, a political analyst specializing in Islamic movements, shares his view.

Sidelining Habib and Abul-Futuh “is a serious coup for the reformist group within the movement which seeks more openness and participation with other opposition groups.”

The Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed since 1954, made a stunning breakthrough in the legislative elections of November and December 2005.

Running as independents, its candidates won one fifth of seats in the 454-member People’s Assembly (the lower house of parliament).

Since then, a fierce government crackdown has left many prominent members behind bars, a move seen as aiming to distance them from political life.