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Brotherhood ‘dissenters’ meet to overhaul leadership

By Taylor Luck - May 31,2014 - Last updated at May 31,2014

AMMAN — A dissenting faction of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood convened late Saturday in a bid to overhaul the group’s leadership. 

In a so-called “internal reform summit”, 40 prominent members of the Islamist movement’s liberal and moderate factions gathered to discuss a host of internal reforms and ways to oust a conservative-dominated leadership they claim has “steered the country’s largest opposition group off course”.

During the meeting, held at a private villa reportedly owned by veteran member Zaki Bashayreh near the northern city of Irbid, liberal Islamist leaders discussed steps to overhaul the Brotherhood’s internal by-laws and leadership chain of command in the wake of a controversial move by the group to expel three prominent liberal members.

During the summit, expected to roll into early Sunday, dissenting Brotherhood members were set to discuss “goals and benchmarks for required reform” and ways to bring “transparency” to the decision-making process within the group, the largest political movement in the country, according  to a source within the  Brotherhood’s liberal wing.

Among the topics for discussion in the summit, which excluded the participation of members of the Brotherhood’s current leadership — with the majority currently in Istanbul — were setting term limits for the position of overall leader of the movement and abolishing an internal court dissenters claim have become a “political tool of revenge” for the conservative branch.

Nabil Kofahi, one of the three prominent members who were recently expelled by the movement, participated in the talks, which received an official blessing of former overall Brotherhood leader Abdul Majeed Thneibat.

According to Bashayreh, the talks are to act as a “preliminary step” to a wider general conference of Brotherhood members and leaders to “reform” the movement’s leadership slated to be held next month.

Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy head of the Brotherhood, dismissed the talks as a “private initiative” by some members, claiming that the Brotherhood’s ranks “remain united” behind its leadership on major issues facing Jordan and the region. 

“In any political movement there are going to be differing views and opinions,” Bani Rsheid said in recent remarks to The Jordan Times.

“This does not mean we are facing defections or divisions.”

The summit comes less than 72 hours after a breakdown in talks between the Brotherhood’s leadership and the three liberal members who were expelled in March for their participation in the establishment of the National Building Initiative known as Zamzam — seen as a potentially rival political movement.

According to Brotherhood insiders, a task-force formed by the movement’s leadership to reach out to Kofahi, Jamil Dheisat and Rheil Gharaibeh fell apart due to differences over concessions to secure their return.

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