Former leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) Kamal al-Helbawi sees the group’s decision to field a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections as the product of a likely conspiracy with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
“It is very likely that both the MB and SCAF agreed on fielding the group’s second-in-command Khairat al-Shater before the decision was made public,” Helbawi told Al Arabiya.
Helbawi, who was the Muslim Brotherhood’s spokesman in Europe, argued that the purpose of fielding Shater is to scatter the votes of Islamists so that eventually a candidate supported by the military council would be able to win the presidency.
“This way, both the Brotherhood and the council will guarantee remaining in power.”
For Helbawi, the fact that Shater was found innocent of charges leveled against him during former president Hosni Mubarak’s rule at this critical time proves that some deal was struck between the group and the council in order to allow Shater to run in the upcoming elections.
Helbawi attributed his resignation from the Muslim Brotherhood, which came directly after the group announced fielding a presidential candidate, to his objection to the strategies of the Brotherhood rather than to Khairat el-Shater as a person.
“It is not about Shater, but about the methodology of the Brotherhood and the way they make such critical decisions.”
The Brotherhood, Helbawi pointed out, has lately been involved in several actions that contradict the nobility of the preaching cause on which the group was original based.
Helbawi unraveled a fact that contradicts the scenario known to the public as far as the choice of Shater as the Brotherhood’s candidate is concerned.
“It is not true that members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Consultative (Shura) Council unanimously approved Shater’s nomination.”
According to Helbawi, only 56 members of the council approved after a lot of pressure had been put on them for three whole weeks by the Guidance Bureau.
“The number of members who insisted on rejecting the decision reached 52.”
Objections to the decision, Helbawi added, extend to younger members of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the Egyptian people in general.
“Egyptians respected the Brotherhood and supported them, but now they are disappointed since the group is no longer up to their expectations as it was before.”
Helbawi said he tried to dissuade the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badei from approving the nomination of Shater, but he insisted.
“This is despite the fact that Shater himself is said to have been unwilling to run.”
For Helbawi, the Muslim Brotherhood is practically run by a small group in the Guidance Bureau and which dragged the whole group into taking such a surprising step.
Helbawi said he finds it unlikely that the nomination of Shater is meant to weaken the chances of Brotherhood dissident and presidential candidate Abdul Moneim Abul Fotouh.
“However, it is possible that the Brotherhood was apprehensive about the growing popularity of Salafi candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail.”
The truth behind Shater’s nomination, Helbawi noted, has yet to be unraveled and only then will the purpose of such a step be known.
“There are so many things we need to know about what went on between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,” he concluded.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)