April 2, 2006

Egypt politician held for questioning on shootings

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian authorities on Sunday ordered a
politician and his supporters held for questioning for four
days on suspicion of crimes including attempted murder when
they occupied the offices of the party he used to lead.

Noman Gomaa and his supporters took over the Wafd Party
offices for several hours on Saturday. Eight people were shot
and wounded when they arrived, including journalists and party
employees who had been working in the building.

The prosecutor ordered Gomaa and 14 others to be held for
four days for questioning on suspicion of crimes including
thuggery, vandalism, arson, possession of firearms, disturbing
the peace and attempted murder, prosecution sources said.

The detained men include Ahmed Nasser, a member of
parliament and ally of Gomaa, and Ahmed Nasser's son Ashraf.

Gomaa denied the charges and said he had gone to the
offices to work, the source said. He said he was attacked and
forced to defend himself.

Rival Wafd Party leaders removed Gomaa from his position as
party leader in January. The party has since elected a new
president at a general assembly.

Gomaa still claims to be leader of the party and says he
has been ousted by a small group of rebels. He came a distant
third to President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt's first
multi-candidate presidential election last year.

Courts had upheld Gomaa's right to enter the party offices.

The original Wafd, which traces its roots to an unofficial
delegation that lobbied for independence from Britain in 1919,
dominated Egyptian politics until the 1952 revolution, after
which the army officers who took power banned political

Like other secular opposition parties in Egypt, the Wafd,
officially called the New Wafd Party since its revival in the
1970s, has not made a significant impact on domestic politics.