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Egypt's largest ultraconservative party splits

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January 1, 2013 01:39 PM EST | AP

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CAIRO — The leader of Egypt's largest Islamist ultraconservative party has announced he is forming a new political party, splitting from the Salafi Al-Nour party, which has emerged as the country's second strongest political group.

Al-Nour has been locked in an internal power struggle since October because its leaders disagreed over the role of a body of clerics in the party's politics.

Emad Abdel-Ghaffour, who headed al-Nour, said Tuesday he is forming the Al-Watan (Homeland) party and "opening a new page."

Abdel-Ghaffour, also a presidential adviser, has been an advocate of separating the party from the Salafi clerical body which backed the party's creation. He has the backing of key Salafi clerics and politicians.

The Salafis are more conservative than the dominant fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood of President Mohammed Morsi.