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The Wafd Party has recently undergone several highly publicised developments. Al-Masry Al-Youm interviewed Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, the party’s general-secretary, to discuss recent remarks he made on al-Hurra satellite news channel, which were considered by some to have been aimed against the party’s current chairman, Sayyed al-Badawi.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Everyone was stunned this week by your remarks against al-Badawi. Are there differences between the two of you?
Abdel Nour: Not at all, we trust each other. It is normal to differ on some issues since we are a part of a liberal, democratic party. In such a case, we discuss the issue and then reach an agreement.
Al-Masry: What is the most controversial issue you argue over?
Abdel Nour: We initially disagreed, for instance, on some candidates nominated by the party to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections, but we reached an accord eventually.
Al-Masry: But in your interview on al-Hurra channel, you said that “the Wafd Party is not a private property owned by al-Badawi for him to appoint Reda Edward as general-secretary [of the party]?
Abdel Nour: What I actually said was that the party is not private property, but rather a grand institution. I did not mention al-Badawi by name, I only explained that the general-secretary’s post was not vacant, and its occupant cannot be nominated by al-Badawi, but is rather elected according to the party’s regulations.
Al-Masry: Does Edward intend to run for the post?
Abdel Nour: He is welcome to do that. But let’s see how many votes he will obtain. No doubt I will beat him, this is logical.
Al-Masry: Are there any disagreements between you and Edward?
Abdel Nour: [Disapprovingly] Who is Reda Edward in the first place? I never dealt with him.
Al-Masry: Why did you object to Professor Souad Saleh joining the party?
Abdel Nour: Her views were at odds with the party’s basic principles.
Al-Masry: But she is seen as a moderate religious figure?
Abdel Nour: Religiously speaking, that’s true. But religion should not interfere with politics. When Saleh joined the party, she declared an intention to do preaching activities, which I refused, telling her that our party seeks solutions for the country’s political, economic, and social problems.
Al-Masry: Aren’t you supposed to accept different ideologies, as the member of a liberal party?
ِAbdel Nour: Liberalism does not mean that politics and religion intermingle.
Al-Masry: What do you think of the recent crisis resulting from the sale of Al-Dostour newspaper to al-Badawi?
Abdel Nour: The party is at such a distance from this issue, which I explained in a statement which stressed that this is al-Badawi’s own problem.
Al-Masry: Has the party seen any tangible developments after al-Badawi took office as chairman?
Abdel Nour: The development process is going along slowly and still needs time. No doubt the party has been enjoying much impetus and a surge in membership after its recently-held elections.
Al-Masry: You are counted as a member of the old team of former Wafd chairman Mahmoud Abaza?
Abdel Nour: I am a Wafd member and nothing else.
Al-Masry: Do you still have contact with Abaza?
Abdel Nour: On a daily basis, and I do the same with al-Badawi.
Al-Masry: What about attempts to marginalize your role after al-Badawi’s success in the elections?
Abdel Nour: A general-secretary is never marginalized, as he assumes his authority from the party’s regulations and works under an executive board.
Al-Masry: But you said you were bypassed when some decisions were adopted?
Abdel Nour: Maybe that is what some believed, but I never said so.
Al-Masry: Did you agree with al-Badawi concerning participation in the elections?
Abdel Nour: I have always been a supporter of participation, and I believe that to boycott would be a kind of withdrawal.
Al-Masry: But the party said it would consider a boycott if the regime does not yield to demands to amend the Constitution and ensure transparency?
Abdel Nour: Though I believe the upcoming elections will not guarantee equal chances, with the NDP acting as a contestant and an arbitrator simultaneously, I think that a boycott would cause a greater loss.
Al-Masry: Will you run for the People’s Assembly elections?
Abdel Nour: I can reply to this few days later.
Al-Masry: Some described the declaration by Wafd MP Alaa Abdel Moneim that he will boycott the election as an act of dissent?
Abdel Nour: There is no need to use such terms. He is free to participate or to boycott.
Al-Masry: You mean the party will not take any action against him?
Abdel Nour: Never. We are not dictators. Everybody is free.
Al-Masry: Did the party strike any deal with the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) concerning the parliamentary race?
Abdel Nour: What deal? The NDP will vie for 100 percent of the seats and will not make any deals. That’s pie in the sky.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.