Gamal Mubarak Denies Egypt Reneging on Reform

The son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak denied accusations from the opposition that the regime was not delivering on his father’s promises of reform.

“I say this is not true,” said Gamal Mubarak, who heads the ruling National Democratic Party’s policies committee.

“We have an agenda for reform. We are achieving things,” he told reporters at a rare news conference he called to explain the NDP’s reform program.

In February, the Egyptian parliament approved a two-year
postponement of municipal polls despite objections from the opposition Muslim Brotherhood and the United States.

Last month, parliament endorsed the renewal of the state of emergency for two years, a controversial measure the government justified due to the recent wave of bombings in the Sinai and communal clashes.

Opposition leaders complain that emergency law, which gives security forces wide-ranging powers to arrest and detain suspects, also targets political dissidents and is periodically used to stifle free speech.

“We said very clearly that we will go ahead and we are committed to put in place a new anti-terror law to be a substitute for the state of emergency fighting terrorism. And we really meant this,” Mubarak said.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif has appointed a committee to prepare the draft of the law and President Mubarak said recently that it would be two years before the law is passed.

“It became clear that we need to amend certain articles in the constitution in order to allow that law to come out,” Gamal Mubarak explained. “The moment this happens and is approved, the state of emergency will be lifted.”

Muslim Brotherhood deputy leader Mohammed Habib told AFP earlier Thursday that 23 young activists from his movement had been detained by police for campaigning against the state of emergency.

The arrests came nearly a week after security forces detained more than a dozen activists demonstrating in support of pro-reform judges referred to a board of discipline for accusing colleagues of helping to rig parliamentary elections last year.

Human rights groups pointed to this as evidence of the government’s reluctance to liberalize the political system.

“I have ample evidence in other areas that prove that we are not turning back, that we are moving ahead with openness, with political reform, with debate,” Mubarak said.

Last year, Egyptians approved in a referendum an amendment to an article in the constitution that paved the way for the holding later in September of the first multi-candidate presidential elections in the country.

In November and December, they returned to the polls to elect a new parliament in an election marred by widespread irregularities and voter obstruction.

The elections saw the NDP retain its majority in parliament, but also landed some 88 members of the officially banned Muslim Brotherhood in the house.

The outcome, Mubarak noted, was “a parliament with the biggest number in absolute terms of opposition members since Egypt reinstated multi-party politics in the mid-to-late ’70s.

“I am a deep believer that 2005 was a turning point in our contemporary reform process. I really believe that.”

Gamal Mubarak, who has struggled to quell rumours that he is eyeing to succeed his father, reiterated that he was not interested in taking over.

“I have been very consistent in my answer and in my response,” he said.

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1-El Erian: Mubarak is reneging on Promises of democratic reform (ikhwanweb)