’Egyptians won’t stop Mubarak dynasty’

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood sees little likelihood of a popular backlash if Gamal Mubarak succeeds his father as president, the Islamist group’s deputy leader said on Tuesday.

Mohammed Habib, whose group is Egypt’s strongest opposition force, said plans seemed to be moving ahead for Gamal to succeed his father Hosni Mubarak, 78, who has ruled for 25 years.

Mubarak has denied any such plan and Gamal has repeatedly said he does not want to be president. But his influence in the ruling party and the absence of obvious alternatives have fed speculation of a plan to make him Egypt’s next president.

“No force can block inheritance (of power) as long as there is no popular movement. I think this does not exist, or the chances of it existing are weak,” Habib said.

“Without this, I think that we cannot block inheritance,” he said at the movement’s headquarters in Cairo.

The Brotherhood holds nearly a fifth of seats in parliament, making it the only effective opposition organisation in a country where analysts say decades of authoritarian rule have squeezed most political life from society.

The authorities launch frequent crackdowns on the Brotherhood and arrest its members on the grounds that it is a banned group because of its religious platform. The Brotherhood says it keeps opposition strictly to legal channels.

“We will reject (inheritance of power), but this rejection will have limits at which it will stop as long as there is not this popular movement and support,” Habib said.

“We are eager not to provoke anyone and to defuse crises as much as possible because tension cannot get anybody what they want – neither the state, the government or the Brotherhood,” he said.

The group contested only a third of the seats in last year’s parliamentary elections so as not to provoke the authorities.

Moody’s Investors Service said in a report on Egypt this month that the risk of “a chaotic succession” was very low.

One of Gamal’s allies in the ruling party last month suggested the party could nominate him for president despite his reservations. Gamal’s influence in the party was clearer than ever at the party’s annual congress last month, analysts say.

“The real story at the conference … was Gamal Mubarak’s increasing political weight and seemingly unstoppable ascent towards the presidency,” wrote political analyst Joshua Stacher.

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