Political Analysis

Prominent Opposition MP Assaulted by Unknown Assailants

Opposition and Ruling Parties Trade Accusations

Sultan Hezam al-Atwani, a key figure in the opposition coalition, was attacked along with his bodyguards by a group of armed men in a Toyota Hilux at the al-Kumaim roundabout on Hadda Street Wednesday.

The general secretary of the Popular Unionist Nasserite party was rushed to hospital after the group struck him in the face repeatedly with the butts of their rifles.  He had been returning from daily business at the parliament building.

The attacks came a day after opposition parties had announced a protest outside parliament, in response to a decision by the ruling party to continue with election planned for April despite persistent objections to electoral laws.

An official statement produced by the Nasserite party condemned the attack, and accused the government of complicity:  “This is a criminal act which aims at terrorizing effective work in the political sphere through a series of terrorist actions which have targeted the opposition leadership and the Joint Meetings Party.

“The attacks are in response to the courage these men have displayed in defending their vision for the country.

“They reflect the authorities’ total failure at a national dialogue, and their determination to escalate a campaign of violence and terrorism against the official opposition.”

The supreme council of the JMP convened a special meeting to discuss its response to the attack on its member.

For its part, the official ruling party website almotamar.net bristled at the accusations in an article entitled, “Media Sources Surprised by Fabrications of JMP and its Partners Regarding Al-Atwani Affair.”

The piece quoted a GPC source as saying, “These parties have always had a history of deceptive accusations and of fabricating stories.

“We are used to these parties exploiting incidents like this and using them for cheap gains at the expense of truth and the public interest, which only reflects the bankruptcy of their ideas and their desire to sow strife in society.”

The party source’s comments to the website continued, “instead of making blind accusations, these parties should help the security services with the information they have on the identity of the perpetrators so as to enable these agencies to carry out their duties to pursue, apprehend, and prosecute them.”

Sources in the interior ministry announced that minister Rashad Al-Misri have given orders to investigate the al-Atwani case and pursue the attackers.