The president of the Pharmacists Syndicate announced his resignation during a press conference on Sunday, citing internal power struggles and Brotherhood attempts to politicize the system.
In a televised address, Mohamed Abdel Gawad briefly explained that he tendered his resignation on Sunday following a conference at the Pharmacists Syndicate the previous day, during which he said the Brotherhood organized a prisoner support group for jailed members.
The 73-year-old pharmacist added that his resignation is largely due to the syndicate’s declining function as a professional association. “When professionalism is transformed into political struggle, it signals the end for me,” Abdel Gawad said.
“I do not stand in support of the Brotherhood, or any other group. I stand with Egypt’s pharmacists. That’s all,” he added. “I’m not a politician, nor have I ever been one. This is not my role.”
The former president announced he was stepping down of his own free will, and had not been subjected to any pressure to resign. He also announced that his decision was final, although some members of the syndicate’s executive bureau have been seeking to change his mind.
Abdel Gawad decried the Brotherhood’s use of the Pharmacists Syndicate headquarters in Cairo for political events, and clarified that his resignation is a direct result of the political struggles taking place within the ranks of the association. He added that he was not informed about the Brotherhood-led conference at the syndicate on Saturday.
The Pharmacists Syndicate is one of several professional associations that the Brotherhood has maintained heavy influence over. Since the 1990s, the Islamist group has won many seats in the syndicates of pharmacists, doctors, veterinarians, dentists, teachers, engineers and lawyers.
However, following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013, the Brotherhood lost most of its seats and influence within the syndicates through purges and elections, with several members jailed.
A significant number of Islamist pharmacists established a group within the syndicate, dubbed Pharmacists Against the Coup.
The Court of Urgent Matters issued a verdict on October 27 placing the Pharmacists Syndicate under state-appointed custodianship, citing financial irregularities and the use of funds to support the Brotherhood.
Elections for the Pharmacists Syndicate are tentatively scheduled for March 2015.
Several of its executive bureau members have expressed their hope that these elections will end the judicial custodianship of the syndicate.