Oxford Union President Ahmad Nawaz Forced to Resign
Andrew Wang, Jason Chau, and Sam Kenny
Ahmad Nawaz has been forced to resign from the Oxford Union Presidency following a Thursday evening vote by the Union-wide House.
Union members voted on a Special Adjournment Motion proposing the rejection of a previous decision by the Union’s Access Committee to force Nawaz to resign. 421 ballots were cast, with 164 voting for the rejection of Nawaz’ resignation, 251 voting to uphold Nawaz’ resignation, and 6 spoilt ballots.
While this forced resignation follows a period of discontent over Nawaz’s behavior towards other members of committee, the President was removed on a technicality: Union members voted against excusing Nawaz’s failures to attend four out of six of the Union’s Access Committee meetings. Nawaz had attempted to pass his absences due to ‘illness’, but the committee voted against excusing his absences.
Nawaz served this term as President of the Oxford Union and is the second President of Pakistani descent. His resignation follows prolonged dissatisfaction with his presidency from some members in the Union, with one member previously branding him as ‘authoritarian and impulsive.’
Tim Green, Chair of the Access Committee, gave a speech in opposition to Nawaz: “Already this week, two other members have been automatically resigned,” claimed Green, referring to the same process by which Nawaz was forced to resign. “The question at hand, really, is: is the President more special than the rest of the Committee?” Tim further alleged that “In the third week meeting of the Access committee,… the president was seen playing [computer] games by other members of the committee.” All of this, Green said, indicated that “the President believes other things are more important than the accessibility of the Oxford Union.”
Green further alleged that Nawaz and his Chief of Staff Israr Khan attempted to engage in ‘abuse of power’ and ‘subvert democracy’ to prevent the vote on his resignation from proceeding normally. According to Green, during a crucial Senior Disciplinary Committee meeting to decide whether the vote should proceed, “security informed my team that the President had ordered our removal from the building” but later changed his mind. Green also claimed that Khan objected to a secret ballot vote and that he was informed of “a queue specially for [Nawaz’] supporters outside” the Union.
The Oxford Student has not been able to verify these claims. Both the Union’s security personnel and members close to Nawaz refused to comment on these claims.
“Following this speech, I do not feel safe enough to continue working on this committee if the president does not resign.” Green added.
However, other Union members also consider Nawaz’ forced resignation an unfair political attack. Nawaz himself claims that he faced ‘threats, targeting & blackmail’ in a post he made to Facebook on Monday. He went on, writing, “as a non-white person, I have to do a lot more than anyone else to prove that I belong here.”
Khan furthered this point in a proposition speech made before Tim Green, telling the House, “It is not often that this society sees a president that brings diversity to the Union.”
In that same speech, Khan further defended Nawaz, saying, “just because someone does not look sick, does not mean they are not sick.” adding, “I have seen presidents missing multiple meetings for good reasons, and their absences were passed.” Khan further claimed that “This objection was nothing but a political ploy to remove the president on small technicalities” and that “this house is better than the Access Committee,” the latter of which drew loud exclamations from the audience.
Following Israr Khan and Tim Green’s speeches, the House voted to move forward with the vote without hearing any other speeches.
Prior to the vote on the Special Adjournment Motion, Ahmad provided some final remarks, telling the House: “At every point, I have given it my best. I am eternally grateful to have had this opportunity as President.”
With Nawaz’s removal, President-elect Charlie Mackintosh has replaced Ahmad Nawaz as Acting President effective immediately as of 00:03 on Friday.
Senior Members of the Union Committee, including Acting President Charlie Mackintosh and Former President Ahmad Nawaz have been contacted for comment.