El-Zayat’s party is unrelated to Brotherhood, says MB deputy

 The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has nothing to do with the new party recently established by Islamist lawyer Montasser El-Zayat, Mohamed Habib, MB deputy leader, told The Daily Star Egypt.

“I doubt that this party exists in the first place. I think that the news about it is fabricated,” he added.

But if the party really exists, he said “it has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood group.”

Habib also indicated that none of the members or founders of El-Zayat’s would-be “Union for Freedom Party” are members or former members of the Brotherhood.

On the other hand, Mohamed Khalil Kwaitah, a National Democratic Party MP told The Daily Star Egypt that Al-Zayat has only just “announced” the establishment of a new party that has not been officially licensed since the political parties committee (the official body under the authority of the Shoura Council responsible for screening new political parties) has not issued a decision on it yet.

According to Kwaitah, any new party has the right to solicit membership to it and declare its existence but cannot function as a full-fledged political party until it is approved by the committee.

In a previous interview with The Daily Star Egypt, El-Zayat said that the party would be civil not religious, with Islam as its frame of reference. “We are opening the door for individuals not organizations,” said El-Zayat, explaining that his party will only admit those who no longer have organizational ties with any of the militant organizations.

However, this new party bringing together repentant Islamist militants reignited the debate on the limitations of the political integration of Egypt’s most notorious armed organizations that left hundreds dead in the 1990s.

Most recently, Osama Roushdy, a former leading member of the militant Al-Jama’a Al-Islamiyya reportedly declared that he will join El-Zayat’s new party.
Yet observers dismissed the announcement as “propaganda” contending that there is no hope for licensing such a party, given the state’s consistent policy to erode any Islamist trends.

Kwaitah noted that the recent constitutional amendments explicitly prohibit the establishment of religious parties and that “political parties are assessed according to their agendas and programs.”

“The political parties committee has to make sure that any new party will present new ideologies and creative programs that distinguish it from existing political parties in order to approve it,” Kwaitah added.

But the Brotherhood’s Habib added that this new party has not “issued anything about its future goals or program.”

News about El-Zayat’s new party reported in the media did not include any details of its program.