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Brotherhood distances itself from newly launched initiative

By Khaled Neimat - Dec 05,2012 - Last updated at Dec 05,2012

AMMAN — Islamists will open dialogue with the leaders of the recently announced National Initiative for Building, or the Zamzam Document, which includes members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a shura council meeting late Tuesday, council members rejected the Zamzam Document, named after the hotel where the initiative members met. However, they left the door open for the movement’s executive office to open dialogue with those involved in the effort, to verify if they “really seek reform”, according to a statement issued by the Brotherhood.

The group said in its statement that it rejects the Zamzam Document because it already has its own reform plan and does not need further initiatives in this regard.

Leaders from the moderate wing in the Brotherhood, dubbed by the media and observers as the “doves”, met last week with other politicians not affiliated with the group and came up with a cross-party action plan they said would address the country’s controversial and thorniest issues, including the economic crisis.

The Zamzam Document highlighted several issues, particularly the need to preserve the sovereignty of the state, adopt gradual reform agenda and select trustworthy people in decision-making posts.

The initiative is led by Muslim Brotherhood member Rheil Gharaibeh, who stressed in previous remarks to The Jordan Times the new initiative is not affiliated with a certain political party.

“… It comprises national figures who are concerned with the interest of their country and aim to open dialogue with all parties, including the government,” Gharaibeh said, adding that the goal is to reach “a consensus or bridge the differences between different views towards a common ground that can take the boat to safe shores and get the country out of its crisis whether economic or political”.

The former MP added that the initiative is open to all parties and does not have any predetermined positions especially with regards to the country’s reform process.

But a source from the Muslim Brotherhood said the launch of this initiative points to a rift within the movement.

“This time things are different,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the press.

The group’s executive office issued late Monday a circular urging its members and supporters to avoid any interaction with the Zamzam Document, describing it as “malicious”.

Launched a few weeks before the January 23 parliamentary elections, observers said, this document will cause a “major shift” in power within the largest opposition group in the country and increase the tension between the hawks and the doves.

Islamists have announced their plans to boycott the coming elections in protest against what they described as a slow and unreal reform process.

“[The initiative] will have more impact on the group’s political performance in the next weeks,” the source noted, saying “it will reshape the group’s future”.

However, while Islamist leaders and supporters considered the initiative “a step towards an internal split”, those behind the initiative insisted that it “complements” the role of the Islamic movement, and does not represent defection by anyone from the movement’s main programme.

Gharaibeh declined to comment on the circular issued by the Brotherhood indicating that he does not know anything about it yet.

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