Campaign under way in Egypt for son to succeed Mubarak

Campaign under way in Egypt for son to succeed Mubarak

THE EFFORT to ensure that Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president for nearly 29 years, is succeeded by his younger son is being conducted by no fewer than three well-organised groups seeking to pre-empt the decision of the ruling party on a candidate for next year’s presidential poll.

Posters showing Gamal Mubarak against the background of the national flag have appeared on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities.

Some posters call the businessman connected to Egypt’s wealthiest citizens the “dream of the poor”, while others bear the Arabic inscription, “No God but God”, with the aim of attracting the devout.

Leaders of the “Yes to Gamal” campaign are also circulating a petition urging the ruling National Democratic Party to choose him as its presidential candidate.

The effort is apparently designed to cultivate popular backing for the younger Mubarak, who has not yet committed himself to run. Recent polls showed his approval rating is low.

Columnist Salama Ahmad Salama observed that the drive is “meant to look like a spontaneous grassroots movement, but the [National Democratic Party] stamp is hard to miss. The presidential silence can only be interpreted as a sign of consent and support.”

It is also significant that the police have not removed the posters, which breach election regulations.

The president, now 82 and reportedly ailing, has neither named a vice-president nor said whether he plans to stand for another term.

The highly sensitive issue of succession will be decided by the senior Mubarak, leading NDP figures, and the military. Candidates of the ruling party are normally successful in elections. which are generally characterised by vote-rigging.

Many Egyptians do not want a father-to-son handover. Some 770,000 signed a constitutional reform petition launched by the National Coalition for Change headed by Mohamed ElBaradei, former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The coalition has the support of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest and most influential opposition party.

The petition calls for an end to the state of emergency imposed in 1981, permission for independents to run for president, and judicial supervision of elections.

Mr Elbaradei’s movement has received a boost following electricity cuts during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and allegations of NDP corruption.