June 22, 2011 / 5:57 AM / 9 years ago

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood expels presidential hopeful

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has expelled a senior member for saying he would run for president in defiance of the group’s decision not to seek the post vacant since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Mohamed Mursi, head of the Brotherhood's newly formed Justice and Freedom Party, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Cairo, May 28, 2011. The Muslim Brotherhood wants a diverse parliament after elections in September and is not seeking to impose Islamic law on Egypt, the head of the group's newly formed political party said in an interview with Reuters on Saturday. Picture taken May 28, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

The Brotherhood announced in April that its newly formed “Freedom and Justice” party would contest up to half the seats in a parliamentary election in September but would not field a candidate for the presidency to avoid dominating power.

But Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh said in May he would run as an independent in a presidential vote expected to take place before the end of the year as an independent.

“The Shura Council (the group’s decision-making body) has decided to scrap the membership of Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh... because he announced he would run for the presidency,” the Brotherhood said in a statement posted on its website.

The group, long seen as Egypt’s best organised political force, gained new opportunities after Mubarak was toppled by a popular revolt and his National Democratic Party was dissolved.

Analysts saw the expulsion of Abul Futuh as a proof of simmering disagreements between younger Brotherhood members and its older and more conservative leaders.

“This certainly shows the divisions among the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Mustapha al-Sayyid, a political science professor.

“The young Muslim Brothers seem to favour Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh becoming a candidate for the presidency while others from the older generation do not want that,” he added.

According to Sayyid, the group’s old guard wants to play safely in the election, preferring not to field a candidate in case he lost.

Abul Futuh said in a statement that he was “not concerned” with the Brotherhood’s decision to expel him.

“I am the candidate of all Egyptians and I am confident that I will get a majority of votes including votes of members from the Muslim Brotherhood led by its supreme guide, Mohamed Badie.”

The Brotherhood became the biggest opposition bloc in parliament in a 2005 election, winning a fifth of the seats. It boycotted the last election under Mubarak in November 2010.

The September election could be Egypt’s first free vote after decades of widespread vote-rigging in favour of Mubarak’s ruling party. It will also be seen as a test of the true strength of the Brotherhood and its political opponents.

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