Algeria’s “Hams” movement to run against Bouteflika in the upcoming presidential elections

In an “unprecedented” move, the Algerian Islamist party, Movement of Society for Peace (MSP) known as “Hams”, decided to nominate its leader, Abderrazak Makri, as a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for April 18, 2019. Tayeb Aziz, the head of the Movement’s consultative council, revealed that the council agreed unanimously to take part in the elections.

In his statement issued on the 26th of January and published on the official website of the movement, Aziz stated that “this election constitutes an opportunity for the realization of political and economic reforms, and the desired national reconciliation, and the launching of development projects that can rescue Algeria and its people, and maintain the hopes of its youth and their trust in a promising future inside their home country.”

Earlier, some press releases hinted at the willingness of Bouguerra Soltani, the former leader of the movement, to run for the presidential elections. However, the decision taken by the consultative council was decisive and led him to retract his decision to contest the presidential elections.

It seems that there is a great sense of opportunity for the Islamists to enter the political competition, after years of supporting the current president Bouteflika. This is evident especially after Abdel Qadir bin Qrina, the head of Harakat Al-Binaa Al-Watani, which is a party established few years ago by a group of dissident leaders in “Hams”, announced his candidacy for the presidential elections, thereby setting a possible competition among two Islamist candidates.

Hams’s step comes after it has proposed a “national reconciliation” initiative last September calling for the rescue of Algeria in the light of the deterioration of the economic and social conditions in the country, according to the statement.

Amidst discussions of this initiative, the head of the movement issued a controversial statement calling on military officers to intervene in order “to salvage the situation in the country”. Makri added “they know that the country is going through an economic crisis and they are the ones most fearful of the consequences of the crisis that could impact the country.”

Khalid Al-Mishri announced his resignation from the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood Movement

Khalid Al-Mishri, the head of Libya’s High State Council and the founder of the Justice and Construction Party (the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya) declared his resignation from all the organizational positions of the movement.

In a video statement released on the 26th of January 2019 on his social media pages, Al-Mishri stated: “I declare my resignation and withdrawal from the Muslim Brotherhood movement in answer to the national, intellectual, and political exigencies and as a matter of conviction and transparency with the Libyan citizen, whilst I continue to carry on my political and partisan work.”

At the same time, he stressed on “the necessity of committing to the political and partisan work” and called on those who are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement to distance themselves from slogans that “break the unity of the Libyan people”, as he said.

He concluded his statement by calling on “all the Libyan people, especially those who belong to the Wasatiyya school of thought, to work together leaving behind all political slogans or names that can be used to break the unity and cohesion of the Libyan society, and to join national action from the perspective they regard as suitable, because the country is in dire need of everyone’s efforts.”

Al-Mishri is a partisan of separating the political from the organizational wing of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. This had caused wide disputes among the various ranks of the group prior to the announcement the establishment of the party.

Sources close to Al-Mishri indicated that his decision to resign was taken due to the refusal of the movement’s leadership to implement the decision of the consultative council issued in 2015 demanding the dismantle of the movement and the formation of social organizations to work alongside the party.

Al-Mashri has been leading the High State Council since last July. The council can render  binding opinions to the Government of National Accord on draft laws and decisions before referring them to the House of Representatives in Tobruk (Tobruk Parliament).

The Islamic Group in Lebanon renews confidence in Azzam Al-Ayoubi

The consultative council of the Lebanese Islamic Group, Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, announced the re-election of Azzam Al-Ayoubi as a Secretary-General for the second time. In a statement published on January 27, 2019 on its website, the Islamic Group said that “the elections took place in accordance with the internal regulations of the group and in a deliberative atmosphere.” It is to be noted that Al-Ayoubi has taken charge of leading the group in 2016.

For his part, Al-Ayoubi considered that his election for a new term, despite the existence of an opposition movement inside the group, shows that the approach he has adopted earlier has garnered support and that there is a desire to proceed with it in order to achieve the reform and progress all the members of the group and its supporters are looking for.

With regard to the “fierce” opposition against his approach, as described by observers, Al-Ayoubi said that “the change that I look forward to implementing is compliant with the procedures recognized by the internal regulations of the group. The opposition should also be compliant with the group’s regulations that allow them to express their opinion and objections freely.” Al-Ayoubi also stated that “diversity enriches organizational work and prevents self-absorption,” warning at the same time from “the attempt to disrupt the process of change.”

Al-Ayoubi is the first Secretary-General who is not among the principle founders of the movement in Lebanon. He adopts a reformist vision for the group, which he stated in a document issued in 2017, and which will be implemented during his second term. The “vision of a nation” document was put forward in 2017 and was described in a statement made by the Islamic Group as a vision for greater openness towards the national components in order to create an atmosphere that reassures everyone and presents “Islamists” as active contributors to the sought-after renaissance.

The vision also included a proposition on how to convince the rank and file of the steps that should be taken towards achieving this openness, while asserting the identity that has always been adopted by the group as “a reformist movement concerned with the human, society and the state as an integral part of its responsibility towards building the earth.”