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Al-Wafd bloodshed dominates headlines

CAIRO: The aftermath of Saturday’s bloodshed at Al-Wafd headquarters due to in-fighting between two party factions has not yet faded, with news of the incident still sending shockwaves through media outlets as an official investigation into the incident kicks off. Noaman Gomaa, recently overthrown party leader, and others, including Ashraf Nasser, son of MP Ahmed …


CAIRO: The aftermath of Saturday’s bloodshed at Al-Wafd headquarters due to in-fighting between two party factions has not yet faded, with news of the incident still sending shockwaves through media outlets as an official investigation into the incident kicks off.

Noaman Gomaa, recently overthrown party leader, and others, including Ashraf Nasser, son of MP Ahmed Nasser, were arrested by security forces after storming the party’s headquarters in Dokki at an early hour. Gomaa and his supporters were attempting to seize the headquarters after it had fallen under the command of their party rivals Mahmoud Abaza, Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour and newly elected party chairman Mustapha Al-Taweel.

Despite a prosecutor’s order guaranteeing Gomaa his rights to the compound, with the inner party disputes still being investigated by two Cairo courts including the Political Parties Court, the rivals insisted that Gomaa had no claim to the party or its property.

Independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that Noaman Gomaa, deemed principally responsible for the violence, is still being held in custody along with 16 other loyalists. The detained are accused of possession of unlicensed firearms, possession of explosives, attempted murder, thuggery, vandalism and arson, unauthorized assemblage with intent of transgressing, disturbing the peace and terrorizing innocents. The detainees denied all accusations, even though field investigations confirmed most of the charges.

The government is responsible for the Al-Wafd party infractions, claimed Mohammad Abdel-Alim, deputy leader of Al-Wafd. “The government fuels conspiracies inside Al-Wafd.

Abdel-Alim also accused security forces of unreliability, saying that they were responsible for the heightened violence. After the breakout of violence in on Al-Wafd’s premises, security forces arrived on the scene more than eight hours later; a fact extensively criticized by political leaders and by Gomaa’s daughter herself.

In rhetoric similar to Abdel-Alim’s, Abdel-Nour, an Al-Wafd senior member and former parliamentarian, told The Daily Star Egypt that security forces had not moved to stop the fighting, describing them as “passive forces. Iman Noaman Gomaa also told the press that security forces’ reluctance to interfere and put an early stop to violence shows an unexplained bias against Gomaa and seems to serve “someone’s interests.

In response to these claims, Shura Council Head and President of the High Council of Journalism Safwat El-Sherif told the press on Sunday that security was not entitled to stop fighting as long as it occurred within the borders of the party’s compound, adding that internal conflicts were not the concern of the government, as long as they occurred on party grounds.

In his daily TV show, Cairo Today, presenter Amr Adib demonstrated surprise at such statements, saying that “apparently the government considers party grounds and compounds like embassies; “foreign grounds.

“What if they had killed off each other inside the party? Wouldn’t the security intervene even then? said Adib.

On another level, Gamal Mubarak’s local TV statements to presenter Lamees El-Hadeedy were shunned as “laughable and “unbelievable by opposition and independent media and political veterans. The younger Mubarak insisted on the show that he did not intend to run for the presidency and that the thought had never crossed his mind prior to the press raising the issue.

The younger Mubarak also stated that he does not pay much attention to opposition papers, especially those that attack him and his family, saying he only reads brief reports of what the papers say.

Criticism of the Mubarak government continued. Independent newspaper Sawt-Al-Umma ran a half-page-long report on Hosni Mubarak’s trip to Salum to view the total eclipse of the sun, along with no less than 8,000 tourists and astronomers coming to Egypt from six different countries.

One writer in Sawt-Al-Umma, Gamal Shawki, said that Mubarak should not have taken a trip that cost the country hundreds of thousands of pounds for a 10-minute view of the eclipse. According to the report, Mubarak took his family on a private plane, paid for by the government, to watch the event. Huge numbers of security police, bodyguards, secretaries and ministers, claimed the writer, accompanied the president.

Shawki said he was astonished by Mubarak’s absence from the Khartoum Arab summit on one hand and his presence at such a trivial event, in comparison to the summit.

“Please return the money you have taken to give your family this tourist trip to Salum to the country’s safe-box, Shawki wrote.

Meanwhile, news wires report that President Mubarak arrived in Algiers on Sunday for joint talks with President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika. The visit was unannounced and is expected to “review the latest developments on the Arab arena in light of the resolutions and recommendations of the 18th Arab summit held in Khartoum last week in addition to regional and international matters of common concern and ways of enhancing relations between the two countries, reported The Middle East News Agency.

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