’We reject inheritance rule’

’We reject inheritance rule’

Nadia Abou El-Magd

Cairo – Egypt’s largest Islamic group criticised the possibility that President Hosni Mubarak may one day hand power to his son, saying on Wednesday it would “fight” any bid to enshrine hereditary rule into this country’s laws.

The fiery comments by Muslim Brotherhood supreme leader, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, came during a special Ramadan fast-breaking meal in Cairo used to launch the banned movement’s campaign for next month’s vital parliamentary elections.

Opposition groups have been critical of a constitutional amendment this year that paved the way for this country’s first ever presidential elections held last September, which 77-year-old Mubarak – president since 1981 – won comfortably.

The amendment placed tough restrictions on candidates aspiring for Egypt’s top job, such as requiring political parties to have at least 5% representation in parliament to be eligible to put forward a presidential candidate.

Protest against inheritance rule

Many political activists believe the restrictions are aimed at paving the way for Mubarak’s son, Gamal, to eventually succeed him. The president has said succession is not an option, while Gamal said last month that standing as a presidential candidate was “hypothetical”, adding he would not contest the parliamentary elections.

“We categorically reject inheritance of rule in any form,” Akef told about 1 600 people gathered at a luxurious five-star hotel. “We believe the constitutional amendment aims to enshrine inheritance, but God willing this won’t happen and we will fight it relentlessly”.

As onlookers feasted on Arab deserts and dates, Akef railed against the constitutional amendment that placed tough conditions on presidential candidates running in elections.

“Legalising oppression is the most horrendous type of oppression,” he said.

Fierce election battle

The parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held over three stages starting on November 9, are expected to witness a fierce battle between Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party and opposition groups, whose success will determine their eligibility to field candidates in the next presidential vote.

The Brotherhood plans to field 150 candidates, including women, in the polls and has joined forces with nine other political parties and groups in an opposition front announced over the weekend to confront Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party, which dominates the parliament.

While the Brotherhood’s election banner – “Islam is the solution” – has been opposed by some of its secular allies, it has still agreed to co-ordinate with other parties to convince people to turn out to vote.

The Brotherhood holds 15 seats in the outgoing parliament, but those members are technically independents because of the ban issued against the movement in 1954.