Reactions to MB Chairman’s Step-Down Announcement

Reactions to MB Chairman’s Step-Down Announcement

Different think tanks, newspapers and websites were interested in the announcement of Mahdy Akef, Muslim Brotherhood’s chairman, in which he said he is going to step down after the end of his term end of this year.

Akef, 81, has held the top post since 2004, but told reporters: “I do not intend to renew my nomination after my term ends in January.” Akef’s announcement is not a new one in fact he said this statement in many occasions before but it seems that this media frenzies around the announcement is due to lack of topics to be covered by the press.

The guide-general is elected by the group”s Shura Council, which has 100 members. The group”s Shura Council is convened to elect a new guide-general if the incumbent died, resigned or failed to take up his duties. The election must be by a two-third majority.

Reactions differed concerning the announcement as it signifies the importance of stepping down and giving way to new input in the body of the organization. The reactions also highlight the significance and richness of all matters related to the Muslim Brotherhood for it is a famous media coverage source.

“Stepping down is a new theme for the Egyptian political powers, If Akef stepped down, it would be a historical move for the Muslim Brotherhood ” Amr El-Shobky, an expert on political movements, said

On the other hand others doubted the decision taken by the MB Chairman, and rejected the possibility of change either in the style or the policy of leadership within the group.

“If Akef is serious about resigning from his post, I don”t think it will go far from the conservatives,” said Khalil al-Anani, a political Islam expert at Cairo”s al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies.

With the search on for a new chairman, analysts who follow the group have suggested a number of names. And they say the Brotherhood can choose one of three different routes: conservative, reformist, or maintain the status quo with a centrist leader akin to Akef”s style. Although it is noticed that the nominations the analysts put forward were chosen on popularity and not necessarily on the possibility of being nominated by Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura Council.

Marc Lynch, a professor at George Washington University believes the changing of the mantle will have “wide-ranging implications for moderate Islamist movements throughout the Middle East.”

The selection of the new Chairman is extremely significant. Lynch highlighted the nominations for the Chairman’s role as follows, ‘ The choice of a reformist leader, such as Abd el-Monem Abou el-Fattouh or Essam el-Erian, would be a powerful signal of the commitment to the democratic game and moderate doctrine.  The selection of a conservative, dawa-oriented leader would signal frustration with politics and a more inward-looking organization — and could potentially drive the reformist trends within the movement to split off in frustration.  Mohammad Habib, the current Deputy Supreme Guide, would most likely signify continuity with Akef”s tenure, balancing the two wings. A choice from outside Egypt, as advocated by European MB leader Kamal Helbawi, might signal a move away from the internal focus on Egyptian politics and a revitalization of the fairly weak and loosely-connected global organization.’

Lynch stated that the announcement creates an extremely interesting and important moment in the history of the Brotherhood.  He also wondered if Akef Will be replaced by a politically-oriented reformist or by a religiously-oriented conservative? Will he be replaced by an Egyptian or by a non-Egyptian from the global Brotherhood movement? 

The group”s choice of the next chairman, the way the current Chairman is stepping down and the way the new one is going to be chosen stress on the route the MB is taking towards working for the people’s best interest, evaluating the group’s performance and taking serious steps to reform. This choice could also hold the key to the MB’s global legitimacy as the region”s leading Islamic group in the term of new U.S. President Barack Obama who intends to forge cooperative relationships with the Arab and Muslim world.

* Ikhwanweb Editorial Desk