Egypt MP: Next president must have American, Israeli support

Egypt MP: Next president must have American, Israeli support

 CAIRO: The next Egyptian president should need to the approval of the United States and Israel, an influential ruling party member of Parliament said in remarks published Tuesday in a local newspaper. His comments have sparked controversy among the opposition, who argue this is a way of forcing people into voting for the ruling party.

“Unfortunately, I do not think someone could become president of Egypt if there were an American veto against him, or even an Israeli objection,” Mustafa al-Fiqi, head of parliament’s Committee on Foreign Relations and an influential lawmaker from the ruling National Democratic Party, told the daily al-Masry al-Youm.

The United States and Israel “will open or close the doors” before the candidates, al-Fiqi said.

“I think that they welcome Gamal Mubarak more than others for the simple reason that they believe that whoever you know is better,” al-Fiqi said in reference to President Hosni Mubarak’s son, who is largely seen as a sure-in for the top job if he wants it.

Egypt’s next presidential election will be held in 2011, but the campaigning has already begun. Many onlookers believe that Mubarak, 81, is grooming his son Gamal, 45, for the job, although the younger Mubarak has repeatedly denied any ambition to be Egypt’s leader.

“I believe that President Hosny Mubarak will run in the coming elections,” al-Fiqi told the daily. “Gamal Mubarak could run if the post were vacant, but (a run) would not be possible while his father is there.”

He added that the the military establishment would give its blessing to Gamal, “out of loyalty to his father,” though Gamal would be the first Egyptian president not to have risen from the ranks of the military.

“Choosing him would be the closest to stability in the absence of a vice-president,” al-Fiqi said.

Mohamed Qady Said, a military analyst at the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Bikya Masr that only through an open and free election would the younger Mubarak gain full support and recognition by the military.

“He should understand the importance of democracy, because only through an election can he have the power needed to restrain the generals in the army,” the analyst said.

The lawmaker dismissed speculation that Arab League chief Amr Moussa or former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammed ElBaradei might run.

Moussa has yet to rule out the possibility and ElBaradei has said that he could run only if Egypt enacted sweeping changes to its constitution and electoral system to allow independents and those not sanctioned by the ruling party to stand a chance. However, there is a website for ElBaradei for his possible campaign and his popularity appears to be growing.

“They talk about alternatives, and I believe the president has pledged to work for Egypt until the last breath in his life,” al-Fiqi said.