Following elections, Brotherhood loosens grip on Doctors Syndicate

Doctors’ Syndicate elections on Friday ended the Muslim Brotherhood’s nearly three decade-long monopoly of the syndicate, with candidates opposing the Islamist group doing especially well in the syndicate’s provincial branches.

Election results showed that the Doctors for Egypt list, representing the Brotherhood, lost control of the national syndicate’s board. The Brotherhood-backed list took 18 of the board’s 24 seats.

Doctors went to the polls on Friday to elect the syndicate’s head and board, as well as provincial syndicate seats in 27 governorates.

Khairy Abdel Dayem, a Brotherhood candidate, defeated 22 candidates to become head of the syndicate. He will replace Hamdy al-Sayed, who held the position since 1978. Abdel Dayem is not a member of the Islamist group.

Nonetheless, representatives of the Independence list, which opposed the Brotherhood, say they are happy with the results, especially their performance in the governorate branches, where they took control of the boards in 13* of Egypt’s 27 governorates.

“This not a small victory, since the newly formed Independence list has won a landslide victory in half Egypt’s governorate,” said Mona Mina, a leading member of the Independence list who was elected to the syndicate’s board on Friday.

The Independence list is made up of members of the reformist groups Doctors Without Rights (DWR) and the Tahrir Square Doctors group, as well as independent figures.

Mohamed Hisham, a judge and the head of the judicial committee supervising the Syndicate election, said in a press conference Sunday that the polls were fair despite some irregularities.

This is the syndicate’s first free election in 19 years after the judicial custody froze all electoral action within the syndicate. The incumbent syndicate board had served since activity within the syndicate was frozen.

“Before these elections, the Brotherhood used to have full monopoly over the syndicate. They used it as a platform for religious propaganda. The results, especially in the provincial syndicate seats, have proven that they’ve suffered a great lost in this election,” said Iman Yehia, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Suez University.

Unofficial figures suggest that Christians constitute 20 to 25 percent of the total doctors in Egypt.

The Brotherhood, according to Yahiya, managed to keep Christian doctors away from the syndicate and turn it into a preaching center.

“The Brotherhood also, benefiting from their control over the syndicate, managed to allocate even the administrative posts in the syndicate to their sympathizers,” said Yahiya.

In Cairo provincial syndicate, the Brotherhood lost 14 out of 16 seats to the Independence list but the head of the provincial syndicate will still come from the group.

The results were more dramatic in Alexandria, where the Independence list achieved a landslide victory, wining ten out of 12 seats and won the election for provincial syndicate head.

In Suez, where the Muslim Brotherhood has long played a strong role, the group failed to garner a single seat. In Ismailia, the Brotherhood lost the majority of seats.

Earlier on Sunday, Egypt’s papers claimed that the Brotherhood won a landslide victory in the elections but the Independence list said in a statement that the coverage was biased.

“We’re observing an organized propaganda campaign that wants to overlook the truth and show that the Brotherhood achieved an absolute victory in the elections. The Brotherhood lost 70 percent of provincial syndicate seats,” said the statement.

Verbal clashes erupted between candidates in the press conference. They contested the formal result issued by Judge Mohamed Hisham.

The judge confirmed that the elections were fair, even though some contested electoral boxes were deemed invalid. “But this cancelation didn’t affect the total results,” said Hisham.

However, Khaled Samir, a candidate of the Independence list said that he would file a complaint against the committee supervising the elections because of the irregularities that dominated some provincial syndicate elections.

“We [the Independence list] have won 70 percent of the provincial syndicates seats. How come this percent didn’t affect seats the syndicate general counsel, where the Brotherhood controlled 75 percent of its seats?” Samir said.

* Correction: This story originally stated that the Independence list captured the boards of 14 provincial syndicates. The correct number is 13. This story has been amended to reflect the correction

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