July 3, 2006 Special Dispatch No. 1196

Egyptian Liberal Ayman Nour Attacks Mubarak's Intention to Nominate His Son Gamal as Next President

July 3, 2006
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 1196

In an article on the website of the Al-Ghad party that he heads, Ayman Nour, who was sentenced on May 17, 2006, to five years in prison, [1] criticized the steps taken by the son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Gamal Mubarak, in the ruling National Democratic Party to ensure his succession to his father's rule in May 2007. Following the article's publication, the Egyptian authorities prohibited Nour from writing and publishing.

Despite the ban, Nour had a letter to the E.U. Parliament smuggled out of prison; in it, he described his situation and asked for its help. In addition, his associates have obtained the signatures of Egyptian MPs, both from the opposition and from the ruling National Democratic party, on a petition to President Mubarak asking him to pardon Nour.

The following are excerpts from the article, the letter from prison, and the report on the pardon initiative:

The Succession Scenario

On April 4, 2006, the following article by Ayman Nour was posted on the Al-Ghad party website:

"Does anyone remember the interview with President [Hosni] Mubarak [in 2001], in which [he was asked] concerning the designation [of his son] as his successor? Mubarak answered: Nonsense... We aren't thinking about this subject [at all]! My son will by no means be the next president. He barely made it into the party...

"Hardly five years have passed since Gamal's 'difficult' entry into the ruling party, and he has already become the second highest [official] in it... Within a year [after the interview], at the eighth party convention, in September 2002, he assumed the role of head of the Central Committee and head of the Higher Council for Political [Affairs] - whereas advancement in the party from rank and file to leadership [normally] takes several times longer than it took Gamal...

"Gamal brought his friends on board and, using them, led a white revolution in three stages, as a prelude to the beginning of the [succession] scenario... which began in April 2006 and whose end is in May 2007. [The scenario] reveals that what is 'nonsense' is not the talk of [Gamal's] succession, but rather the regular pronouncements… denying this succession… [Mubarak] says this [only] in order to neutralize and put to sleep the movements of conscience leading the opposition to the [succession] scenario, to which the people are opposed as well…

"Article 76 [of the Egyptian constitution] sets the condition that anyone who puts forward his candidacy [for the presidency] from any political party must have been a member of that party's Central Committee for at least one year. [This condition] led Gamal Mubarak to expel from the party's Central Committee - over the past few days and in one fell swoop - eight people who do not belong to his group and whom he does not trust… and to replace them with a group of his own people.

"[For instance,] Kamal Al-Shadhili, [former Parliamentary Affairs minister and assistant secretary-general] was the first to be expelled from the party's Central Committee, after the previous secretary-general, Yusuf Wali, who was expelled from his post as secretary-general and subsequently was again expelled from membership in the [Central] Committee. The list of expellees features: [former Culture and Education minister] Hussein Kamel Bahaa Al-Din, [former Communication Minister] Mamduh Al-Baltagi… only [Secretary-General and Shura Council head] Safwat Al-Sharif remains. Soon he [too] will join the list of expellees…

"Why should we accept Gamal [as president]?! Because he is the son of President Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for a quarter of a century?!... This is the first reason that will lead us to oppose Gamal!!…

"We have dozens of reasons to cry out against Mubarak's continuing in this path. However, [even] if there might be other reasons for electing Gamal - even though he is the president's son - they would be reasons like his age, his generation, and his education, which is of course different than his father's education… [Yet] Egypt has 72 million citizens, of whom over 40% are Gamal's age or younger, and thousands of talented and experienced [people] who did not just appear suddenly, and do not enjoy the protection of reputation, the authorities, and influential people…"

Seven Steps Expected to Be Taken by the Egyptian Authorities to Transfer the Presidency to Gamal

In his article, Ayman Nour lists seven steps that he expects will be taken during the coming year in order to ensure that the presidency is transferred to Gamal Mubarak:

"1. Throughout April, 2006, we witnessed the end of the last of the 'Kamalists' in the National Democratic Party. The 'Kamalists' are not [just] Kamal Al-Shadhili's people, but rather everyone who is not defined as a 'Gamalist!!'... The fact that Kamal Al-Shadhili left his posts... and the party's Central Committee brings [Gamal] closer to achieving his goal, which requires the purging of [those whom Gamal's people term] 'the lackeys of Kamal Al-Shadhili' - whereas their real goal is to establish a strong group in the [various electoral] districts that will take the lead in calling for the transfer of power [to Gamal]…

"2. September 2006: the end of [the era of] Safwat Al-Sharif. Al-Sharif will not get out unscathed, as is the case with [all] those who get out of the hell of the ruling party… The attack [on Al-Sharif] began [as early as] February 2006, when Al-Sharif came under a heavy attack led by the Roz Al-Yousef newspaper, which is Gamal's mouthpiece. The newspaper declared war on Al-Sharif… and made it clear that the media attack against him was preparation for his expected dismissal, so that Gamal Mubarak would inherit [Al-Sharif's] position... [This, in] follow-up to Al-Shadhili's dismissal, is meant to produce a one-man rule, [and Gamal or one of his men] will be appointed to the party's [Central] Committee and the High Press Council.

"3. Zakaria 'Azmi [MP and director of President Mubarak's office] will, in November 2006, replace [current parliamentary head] Ahmad Fathi Srur. Zakaria 'Azmi enjoyed great popularity because of his reputation in parliament as a dedicated fighter against corruption... This led 'Azmi to develop aspirations that might threaten Gamal. The threat can be defused only if 'Azmi is appointed parliamentary head. In this way, he will not be entitled to present his candidacy in the presidential elections… This will ensure that Gamal will be able to take advantage of 'Azmi's connections with the Republican Guard and with the presidency in order to strengthen the guarantees that Gamal [will take power]…

"4. January 2007: referendum on the amendment to the constitution. At the beginning of next year, certain amendments will be introduced into the current constitution. The most important of them will be the repeal of the percentage stipulated [in Article 76] for a party to be able to participate in the presidential elections. [According to the new amendment] it will be enough for a party to have representation in the parliament, and that it has no internal struggles and differences of opinion. The first condition - that of representation in parliament - denies all parties [the right to have a candidate for the presidency], except for Al-Wafd, Al-Tagammu', and Al-Ghad. The second condition denies Al-Ghad and Al-Wafd the right [to have a candidate in the presidential elections, because there are differences of opinions in these parties]. Thus, there will remain only one rival party allowed to participate [in the presidential elections against the ruling party] - that is, Al-Tagammu' [which is weak]…

"5. An announcement by President Mubarak in February 2007 that he will step down from the presidency in May 2007. This announcement will include an immediate choice of three MPs to be his partners in being in charge [of affairs of state]… The prevailing prediction is that the first of them will be Field Marshal Tantawi, and the other two will be chosen from three [MPs], among whom are [current Prime Minister] Ahmed Nazif, the Copt Nadia Makram 'Ubayd [formerly Environment Minister], and Minister 'Umar Suleyman [head of the Egyptian intelligence apparatus]. This pronouncement is a preparation for the following stage in the process of the power transfer, [which will come] when [the number] of candidates for the presidency shrinks [to include only] members of the party's [Central] Committee. This will completely rule out the candidacies of Field Marshal Tantawi and 'Umar Suleyman, who are the most well known. This means that the entire military establishment is out of the equation. A solution to this is the appointment of a vice-[president] or two with a military background.

"6. March 2007: The election of Gamal Mubarak as the National Democratic Party's candidate for the presidency. Several days after President Mubarak announces his intention to resign, the [National Democratic Party's] Central Committee will convene to release a statement praising the move by president and leader Mubarak… [In addition,] the [party] secretariat will pronounce Gamal Mubarak, who will [then] be the party's secretary-general and head of the Committee for Political [Affairs], to be its candidate for the presidency. The presidential elections will be held in April 2007, before President Mubarak's resignation takes effect…

"7. April 21, 2007: Ridiculous presidential elections. In the third week of April 2007, presidential elections will be held with what is practically a sole candidate - the National Democratic Party candidate - who will run against the Al-Tagammu' party's candidate... [This will take place] after candidates from Al-Wafd and Al-Ghad are prevented from running, on the pretext that they [i.e. these parties] have [internal] struggles… [and after] all the other political parties and movements have been removed from the picture…"

Seven Obstacles to the Implementation of the Succession Plan

In the article, Ayman Nour outlines seven obstacles to Gamal Mubarak's inheriting his father's rule:

"1. The army: Gamal Mubarak's succession would mean that this would be the first time in Egypt's history, after three military republics, that there is president without a military [background]....

"2. The parties: The disqualification of the large political parties, like Al-Wafd and Al-Ghad, the Nasserists, and Al-Tagammu', poses a serious problem for the [succession] scenario. This problem can be sidestepped only by minimalizing the amendment of Article 76. The [new] conditions will limit [the possibilities of running for the presidency] more than they will expand them…

"3. The Muslim Brotherhood: The Muslim Brotherhood's exit from the equation of the presidential elections, because they do not have a party. [Independent] Brotherhood activists will have difficulty collecting the required number of signatures from the Shura Council, and will also have difficulty collecting enough signatures from the local councils, [and this could backfire against Gamal]...

"4. The Americans: The uncertainty surrounding the American position on Gamal's succession means that the scenario continues to be threatened by mines that could go off at any moment. This eventuality will be dealt with by feeding the outside world's perception that there is no other civilian replacement for Mubarak aside from his son... or a new Hamas, as embodied by the Muslim Brotherhood. The authorities have made efforts to emphasize this throughout the last few months, by weakening liberal forces and sowing dissension among the largest and most prominent parties [i.e. Al-Ghad and Al-Wafd].

"5. Public opinion: We are not interested in handing over power [to Gamal Mubarak], but rather in elections. Citizen Gamal Mubarak can exercise his right to be the National Democratic Party candidate if it were, by chance, to elect him, as he is the [party's] secretary-general - but not as the president's son!!...

"6. The pillars of the regime: The pillars of the regime in the reign of Mubarak Sr. will never agree to hand over all their powers to his son, who will of course bring in others to replace them...

"7. Death: There are people who erroneously believe that the president's death would completely eliminate the idea of succession [but this is not the case]..."

Implementing the Plan

In conclusion, Ayman Nour lists a number of means that will help Gamal Mubarak implement the succession plan:

"- Money and businessmen: using large sums of money to buy up everything, under the guise of donations from businessmen - whereas they are actually Gamal's clique!

"- America and Israel: Gamal Mubarak is interested in first presenting himself to America and knocking on its doors even before he knocks on the doors of his own homeland, and [those of] its citizens!! It is no secret that Gamal maintains balanced relations with Israel...

"- The 'Strike Force':...The 'Strike Force' is a particular group of [Gamal's] associates, headed by Ahmad 'Izz [secretary of the Al-Manufiya district of the National Democratic Party]. This group includes businessmen, journalists, party hacks, and media people close to Gamal who can strike out forcefully at his rivals. This group will have centralized control over the district councils in the two weeks preceding the president's announcement of his resignation... and it will finance the local authorities so as to ensure that nothing whatsoever will go wrong with the implementation of [Gamal's] orders.

"-...A group of legal and constitutional authorities, which will write the special provisions in the constitutional amendment and [will ensure]... that they are implemented, in order to repel any real competition to Gamal. At their head stands [Justice and Parliamentary Committees Minister] Dr. Mufid Shihab, [parliamentary head] Fathi Srur, and Al-Dakruri, President Mubarak's attorney.

"- The [political] assassination of the alternatives: Among the illegitimate means to which that the group in charge of the [succession] scenario has resorted have been legal pressures and the ability to use any and all means to politically assassinate Gamal Mubarak's rivals, in hope of limiting their ability and freedom in the [presidential] race. The best proof of this is the Al-Ghad party... [2]

Nour's Letter from Prison: Today I am Paying a High Price for Having Run in the Presidential Elections

The following is a letter by Ayman Nour to members of the E.U. Parliament, that he had smuggled out of prison. [3]

"30 May 2006

"Tura Mazraa Prison, South Cairo

"From: Ayman Nour

"To: Esteemed Members of the European Union, Deputy Head of the European Parliament

"I address this very short letter to you and to all the honorable and free people in the world, to all the representatives of the free people, and to those whose consciences reject oppression, injustice, false accusation, and merciless murder.

"My letter is very short due to circumstances out of my control that restrict my freedom and deprive me of my human rights, the foremost of which is the right to write, express, and reject the injustice and suffering to which I am subject!!

"The day my freedom was taken away in January 2005, your great efforts - after God and combined with the efforts of my supporters - played a crucial role in my release. The first faces I saw - an honor to me - were the faces of a delegation of male and female European parliamentary representatives.

"Your visit to me during my imprisonment is not only reason for the breaking of the doors of this prison and my temporary release; it also gave me the possibility to exercise my right in running for the first presidential election. I was imprisoned to prevent me from running in the January 2005 election. With the grace of God, and the enthusiasm of the reformists, I managed to come in second to the president, and to be the only rival to him and his son, despite the rigging [of the elections] and all forms of injustice, defamation, and changes of the results. I also paid an extra price when my constituency's election results were rigged, thus causing me to lose my permanent seat in the parliament due to blatant rigging. Some of you were in Cairo and witnessed part of the tragedy.

"Today I pay a new and high price, as punishment for having run in the presidential election. I am also being prevented from continuing the democratic reform path in Egypt, so that the current regime can strengthen its presence by claiming there is no alternative to it besides fundamentalism and terrorism, thus forcing people inside and outside Egypt to accept its presence.

"Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, I do not pay this price alone. My children, my family, my party, my entire generation, and all reformists in this country are paying the price as well. I have lost my freedom, and my work as a lawyer, a journalist, and chairman of the first and only civil political party established in a quarter of a century, the duration of Mubarak's rule.

"I am threatened with remaining in prison for five years and prevented from exercising my political rights for another five years, in order to ensure that Egypt is inherited by Mubarak's son - as well as in order to make an example of me to anyone who thinks of breaking the power monopoly, not only in Egypt but in the Arab world!!

"I call upon you to exert every effort to defend my fair case, not for my sake, nor for the sake of my children or my party that is being destroyed, my human rights which are violated in this prison every morning, or my life, at which illness, injustice and oppression are eating away.

"I ask you to defend my fair case in order to keep hope alive for the coming generations, which we do not want to lose hope. It is for these generations that I call upon you to exert every effort to defend my fair case and to visit me in prison to witness the truth, which the Egyptian regime is very good at concealing and [also good at] telling lies to prove the opposite. Free people of the world: I am dying alone, for a principle, for my country and for freedom.

"Please, raise my voice before my spirit departs this world.

"Ayman Nour."

The Multipartisan Petition to President Mubarak Demanding Pardon for Nour

In response to Nour's continued imprisonment, his supporters collected signatures from Egyptian MPs, from both the opposition parties and the ruling National Democratic Party, for a petition asking President Mubarak to pardon Ayman Nour. The following article gives details on the initiative: [4]

"June 17, 2006

"Al-Ghad's Opinion

"Thanks to 107 Honest Representatives

"Ayman Nour has a famous saying: 'People are the best thing in life.' We now see this phrase in action in its best form, through a practical stance that demonstrates the real essence of Egyptian people.

"A stance that rises above political disagreements and that goes beyond party agreement; a stance that translates the missing spirit which we regain during hard times and find that we all, regardless of where we stand or our different points of view, are one and the same.

"We express our deep thanks and gratitude in the name of the Al-Ghad party, its leader, [and his] family and children, to [the] honest and honorable colleagues of Dr. Ayman Nour's who were not deterred by his difficult circumstances from taking a position that exemplifies honor, patriotism, [and] respect for the rights of colleagues and the honest representation of the nation.

"The signatures of 107 representatives from various political and party trends on a document calling for a complete pardon for Dr. Ayman Nour, regardless of the motives [of the signatories], show such great nobility that urges us to thank all those who signed...

"We thank all of Egypt's honorable and sincere representatives who exerted or will exert a genuine effort to submit this request in the name of Egypt's representatives to Egypt's President, to take the decision that he deems right according to his constitutional right.

"Regardless of the results, that we hope and are almost certain - God willing - will be in line with the noble sentiments of Egypt's representatives, we are confident that each of the signatures represents a candle that dispels Ayman Nour's loneliness and lights up the darkness of Ayman Nour's prison cell, where any flicker of light seems like the sun.

"Thanks to the brave representative Talaat al-Sadat who adopted the idea. Thanks to our brothers, the representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood. Thanks to Al-Wafd party chairman Mahmoud Abaza, and members of Al-Wafd, Al-Tagammu' and Al-Karama. Many thanks to the NDP... representatives and to all the honest hands that were extended in confidence to contribute their signature, thereby registering a stance that history will never forget. It shall remain a great debt appreciated by the Al-Ghad party and its members [and] supporters, and by all the supporters of freedom all over this country...

"Thanks to all the representatives who called the Al-Ghad headquarters... to notify us of their wish to sign and submit the request but whose circumstances prevented them from attending last Sunday's session...

"We thank each and every one of them in our names, in the name of Ayman
Nour's small family. They helped us regain confidence. If we may, we extend special thanks to all opposition and independent representatives, and even more appreciation to NDP members whose names reached us, such as Dr. Georgette Kellini, Mohamed Abdel-Fattah Omar, Ibrahim al-Gogary and Taher Hozayen.

"Finally, I thank my colleagues at the National party, who sold out in submission and sometimes in betrayal."

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1075, "Arab Media Reactions to the Imprisonment of Ayman Nour, Leader of Egypt's Al-Ghad Liberal Party," January 24, 2006, Arab Media Reactions to the Imprisonment of Ayman Nour, Leader of Egypt's Al-Ghad Liberal Party.




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