- DemocracyElbaradei Campaign
- November 2, 2009
- 9 minutes read
Who is Egypt’s next president?
In the media, the street and political gatherings the question is reiterated: Who is Egypt’s next president? However no matter how many times the question is repeated no clear answer is provided despite the rumours that Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, is gearing for a father-son succession.
As the annual congress of President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party is under way, leaders of the party have been at pains to give no clue about the next president. Moreover, the NDP seems oblivious to the uproar roused by opposition circles over the presidential elections scheduled for 2011 which seems not to have caught the attention of the ruling party or of its major figures, and that the NDP is moving forward with its policies without paying notice to the raucous debate over the next president, considering that “the constitution and the law have set procedures for selecting the president, the date upon which candidacy can begin to be applied for, and the date of the elections”.
Mufeed Shehab Egypt’s Minister of Parliamentary affairs and a senior official in the party has stated that “The presidential election is two years away. Why should the party name its candidate now? The opposition parties have not declared their candidates either”. Mubarak, 81, who has been in power, has yet to say if he will seek a sixth six-year term. He has not designated a successor though opposition claims he is grooming his 46-year-old younger son Jamal to succeed him.
Nevertheless both father and son have repeatedly denied claims of the hereditary handover of power.
“There will be a special conference to choose the party’s candidate for the presidency,” Safwat Al Sherif, the secretary-general of the ruling party, said on Saturday. “This will be the only item on the agenda of this conference,” he added.
Making no mention of the presidential election, during his speech last Saturday October 31st, President Mubarak addressed his party, which wields majority in both houses of the parliament, to be prepared for the 2010 legislative elections. Mubarak promised a free, fair and competitive parliamentary election.
A statement attributed to Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif, who saw Jamal Mubarak as a possible contender for presidency angered official opposition forces including the Muslim Brotherhood who have not been granted legitimacy. Indeed, when opposition forces did in fact put forth initiatives and suggestions aimed at pressuring the ruling regime to appoint a Vice President, they were offered an amendment to Article 76 of the constitution and by the abolition of the system of referendum over a single candidate for presidency. Revealing denied intentions of nominating Jamal (Mubarak junior), a West-educated banker, and head of the ruling party’s influential Politics Committee as a potential candidate. He is usually shown in the official media touring the country, addressing rallies accompanied by senior executive officials. However in an apparent bid to derail the alleged father-son succession, opposition parties have started wooing popular figures inside and outside Egypt to stand for presidency.
Ayman Nour, an opposition activist who had trailed a distant second to Mubarak in Egypt’s first competitive presidential election in 2005, has set up an alliance, including the banned-but-strong Muslim Brotherhood, to campaign against the alleged handover of power to Mubarak’s son.
Members in Al Wafd, Egypt’s oldest liberal party, have recently asked Mohammad Al Baradei, an Egyptian who is currently director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to run for president in the name of Al Wafd. Al Baradei, a law professor by profession, has yet to comment on the offer. His term in the IAEA ends this month. Other possible contenders are Amr Moussa, Egypt’s ex-foreign minister, Ahmad Bewail, an Egyptian-American researcher who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1999, and Omar Suleiman, the incumbent chief of the intelligence service.
Regardless of denials it is certain that there is a tremendous gap between the views held by the opposition and what the ruling party can cause in terms of changes to the map of politics in the country, since it is evident that the NDP does not want real changes that would make the system of rule truly presidential or parliamentary, however opposition forces have proved that their practices will not be deterred where they believe that what they are doing will strengthen them.