ElBaradei issue splits Wafd Party ranks

Members of the liberal Al-Wafd opposition party’s executive board disagreed in their meeting on Monday over the party’s official position regarding Mohamed ElBaradei, former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and would-be candidate in next year’s presidential elections.

Some party members suggested meeting with ElBaradei in order to learn more about his ideas for political change, although party head Mahmoud Abaza rejected the idea. "Why should we chase after the man after he made it clear he would run as an independent and refused to join any political parties?" Abaza asked.

Al-Wafd Party Vice-President Mohamed Sarhan, however, asserted that working with ElBaradei could serve to benefit the party.

In a related development, Safwan Mohamed, coordinator of the popular "Give Me My Rights" opposition movement, said he had so far collected more than 10,000 signatures in support of ElBaradei’s call for constitutional overhaul. "And I have promises from several prominent personalities that they too would provide their signatures," he said.

Nasserist Party executive board member Shaaban Hammam, for his part, expressed support for ElBaradei and criticized leaders of his party for opposing the ex-IAEA chief. "It appears as if they work for the ruling party and not for us," he said.

At a symposium held on Monday at Cairo University’s law faculty, legal expert Yehia el-Gamal suggested the amendment of Article 76 of the Constitution to allow candidates to run as independents in presidential elections.

"I think it’s enough for independents to garner 500 signatures from local council members, 10,000 signatures from ten different governorates, and five signatures from members of parliament," said el-Gamal. "The notorious Article 76 serves to ensure that only the leader of the ruling party can run in elections."

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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