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memri
May 20, 2005 No.
910

Egyptian Human Rights Activist and Presidential Candidate Dr. Sa'd Al-Din Ibrahim: Mubarak Shouldn’t Run Again –He’s Old, Sick, Tyrannical and Corrupt

Human rights activist and director of the Ibn Khaldun Center in Cairo, Dr. Sa'd Al-Din Ibrahim, who has announced his candidacy for the Egyptian presidency, published an article in the Qatari daily Al-Raya, titled "Five Reasons Against Mubarak Presenting His Candidacy Again." He called upon the Egyptian president not to run for another term on the grounds that he is old, sick, tyrannical, and corrupt. The Following are excerpts from the article: [1]

30 Years in Power is More than Enough for Anybody

"Despite the increase in voices calling 'No to renewal [of Mubarak's presidential term],' 'No to extension' and 'No to succession,' and despite the strengthening of these calls – especially on the part of the [Egyptian] Popular Movement for Change, known as the Kifaya movement in Egypt and worldwide – the reasons for opposing the continuation of President Mubarak's term as Egyptian president have not [yet] been detailed explicitly.

"Everybody has assumed that the reasons and arguments for this opposition are known and that there is no need to talk about them. Perhaps most of those opposing [Mubarak's continued presidency] make do with the word kifaya [lit. 'enough'], which, for many people, sums up these arguments. This word signifies that a quarter-century as president, and six years previously as vice-president (1975–1981), i.e. 30 years in total, is more than enough for anyone, whatever his qualifications…

"In this article I will present the clear and frank reasons for the demand that he leave this office of his own accord:

Mubarak Has Passed the Age for Public Service

"His advanced age: President Mubarak has reached the age of 77. Although we wish him a long life, he has already passed the qualified [age] for public service.

"While the laws of the Egyptian nation generally pension off civil servants at age 60, and in exceptional cases at 65, and supreme court justices at 67, President Mubarak has passed all these ages, including the most exceptional cases, by at least 10 years.

We Only Learned of Mubarak's Declining Health When He Fainted Before MPs and TV

"His declining health: Some say that the pension laws that apply to government officials do not apply to those elected to public office. This is the case in truly democratic countries, but President Mubarak and all of us know that this is not the case in Egypt. President Mubarak came into office by 'referendum,' and not by free and direct elections that give the citizens a chance to choose from among more than one candidate. In addition, truly democratic countries are highly transparent regarding who applies for executive leadership positions, especially the position of president of the republic, or prime minister. This includes [transparency] regarding [the candidate's] health and wealth.

"In Egypt, however, the position of president of the republic has been shrouded in puzzling secrecy and opacity. Whereas in France and the U.S. presidential candidates undergo a general medical examination, the results of which are publicized by the relevant medical authorities to provide the voters with full knowledge about a candidate's condition before his election, with us [such information] is tantamount to a military secret. We learned about President Mubarak's failing health only when he fainted at the opening of the parliamentary session on November 17, 2003, particularly because this happened in front of the MPs and television cameras, and could not be kept secret.

"Exactly the same thing happened a few months later, when Egyptians learned – first from the foreign press, and only a few hours later from Egyptian sources – that the president had traveled suddenly to Germany for medical treatment, where he underwent a critical spinal operation...

Mubarak's Condition Affects the Entire Political Regime

"Blocked Political Arteries: This is related to the president's advanced age and failing health... The problem of President Mubarak's condition goes beyond his personality, body and mind, and affects the entire political regime. The arteries of this regime have been blocked, and can no longer pump blood – i.e. new ideas – to the brain – i.e. the central command of the Egyptian political body.

"President Mubarak is not the only one to have passed the age of 75; so have most of his advisers, his aides, the editors of his daily newspapers, and the heads of the People's Council and the Shura Council. Since all these [officials] and their ilk were appointed by the president years ago, they are completely loyal to him, and he, for his part, harbors friendship and comradeship towards them, feels at ease [with them] and trusts them, regardless of their abilities, qualifications, and integrity.

The President Does Whatever He Wants Whenever He Wants – in Other Words, Tyranny

"Tyranny: The fact that President Mubarak's regime is based on a referendum and not on elections have made the Interior Ministry – which 'cooks' the People's Council elections and the referendums of the President of the Republic – become a body more important than the people itself. As long as the president is not subject to parliament's criticism and does not need to convince the people in order to win their votes – since the Interior Ministry does this – the president does whatever he wants whenever he wants. In political language, this is called tyranny.

"If the parliament does not carry out its duty to supervise and demand [the president's] accountability, and if the people has no real opportunity to demand accountability and to elect [the president], why should the president not become a 'Pharoah,' i.e., a tyrannical ruler?...

As Tyranny Continues, Corruption Seeps into All Aspects of Life

"Corruption: Tyranny means lack of supervision and accountability. Since this begins at the top, i.e. the president, all his aides and cronies have the same traits. Over time, each becomes a microcosm of the president – whether he knows it or not. In other words, each of them becomes a 'little Pharoah,' who does, in his own little circle, whatever he likes, however he likes, and whenever he likes.

"For these reasons, tyranny and corruption become two sides of the same coin. As long as tyranny continues, corruption grows as well, and seeps into all aspects of life...

"For a quarter of a century, the president, his cronies, and his aides have not been subject to accountability. Thus, it has become an established fact for them that whatever they do is their absolute right, not corruption.

"The latest manifestation of this is [the fact] that Egyptian TV, which officially belongs to the state, devoted seven entire hours in mid-April to an interview of President Mubarak by the well-known media personality 'Imad Al-Din Adib. It is unlikely that this [media] outlet would have devoted even one hour to any other presidential candidate. In other words, corruption has become a way of life for the corrupt, sometimes unconsciously and without batting an eyelid.

" For these five reasons, we call upon President Mubarak to give up the idea of presenting his candidacy for a fifth term. [It should be] enough for him that he is the longest-ruling President of the Republic in the history of [modern] Egypt, and that he is the ruler [whose reign was] the third-longest in Egypt in the last 5,000 years – after Ramses II and Muhammad Ali. Out of pity for him, for his health, for his history, and for his family, as well as out of pity for us and for Egypt, [we call upon him:] 'Do not present your candidacy [again], oh honorable President'..."

Endnote:

[1] Al-Raya (Qatar), May 16, 2005.