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Polls expose rift in Egypt's Al-Nour party

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ElSayed Khalifa, the deputy chief of Al-Nour, Egypt's second largest party, has confirmed reports of a rift within the party's leadership over local internal leadership elections held on Saturday.

Speaking on Tuesday, Khalifa said Emad Abdel Ghafour, Al-Nour's chairman, had wanted to postpone voting until after upcoming legislative elections, after receiving complaints about electoral irregularities in the run-up to the polls.

However, Al-Nour's supreme committee, the party's highest body, ruled that the elections should go ahead in 19 of the country's 28 provinces.

Reformists within the party say the decision to hold the elections despite the complaints is another step in an ongoing process to undermine their camp within the party involving interfering in the selection of local candidiates.

The rift is the clearest sign of tensions within the party, established in May 2001, between its reformist and conservative wings. 

To contain the dispute, Al Dawah Al Salafiah, the main Salafi religious group behind the party, has assigned one of its deputy chairmen, Sheikh Said Abdel Azzim, to hold negotiations between the disputing camps to avoid further rifts and to search for a solution.

Abdel Azzim said "there are mistakes and they need a remedy".

Al-Nour came second in the first parliamentary elections held in Egypt after the January 25 uprising against Mubarak with about one fifth of the vote.


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