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Brotherhood dissenters declare ‘uprising’ against leadership

By Taylor Luck - Jun 03,2014 - Last updated at Jun 03,2014

AMMAN — Dissenting members of the Muslim Brotherhood have declared a “popular uprising” against the movement’s leadership, announcing plans for a second opposition conference in less than a month.

Former overall leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Abdul Majeed Thneibat announced that the movement’s southern branch in Karak is set to hold a reform summit later this month as part of a drive to “reform” the group’s leadership.

The planned gathering comes in the wake of an opposition summit held earlier this week by 100 dissenting members in Irbid, 80km north of Amman, aimed at “overhauling the group’s conservative-dominated leadership and “secretive” governing structure.

“After the success of our conference in Irbid, our members in Karak have decided to hold a second conference to discuss the pressing need for change,” Thneibat said in a statement to The Jordan Times. 

“There is a strong will for change in the movement, and we will export the uprising from the north to the south.”

On Saturday, Thneibat hosted a controversial “reform” conference in Irbid that reportedly saw the participation of members representing 20 of the Brotherhood’s 35 branches across the country in a bid to propose internal reforms for the country’s largest opposition movement.

Among the topics discussed at the summit — unsanctioned by the Brotherhood’s leadership — were the disbanding of the group’s internal court, setting term limits on the position of overall leader and even separating the Islamist movement from its political arm, the Islamic Action Front. 

The meeting — which was dominated by members of the movement’s liberal and moderate factions — also discussed dissolving the group’s executive office dominated by overall leader Hammam Saeed and his deputy Zaki Bani Rsheid, both from the group’s rival conservative wing.

Thneibat denied reports that the move represents a political “coup”, stressing that the aim of the conferences is to “arrive at needed reforms from within and not imposed from outside”.

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood’s leadership criticised the reform campaign as an “attempt to divide” the Islamist group, accusing “outside forces” of instigating the opposition movement.

Bani Rsheid dismissed the calls for reform as part of a “new campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood by outside political forces” he claimed are attempting to weaken the movement ahead of a wider national debate on the Elections Law.

He refused to confirm whether the members who took part in Saturday’s conference will face internal disciplinary measures from the movement’s leadership.

The reform drive comes on the backdrop of growing divisions within the movement over a decision by the conservative leadership in late March to expel three leading liberal members for their ties to the National Building Initiative (Zamzam).

In a controversial move, the Brotherhood’s internal court moved to sever the membership of Rheil Gharaibeh, Nabil Kofahi and Jamil Dheisat.

In response to the growing controversy, Saeed last month tasked former senator and leading Islamist liberal Abdul Latif Arabiyat to head a negotiation team to mediate the trio’s return to the movement.

Talks between the Brotherhood leadership and the Zamzam members are ongoing, according to Islamist sources.

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