Skepticism over Gamal Mubarak's presidential ambitions

Jonathan Spollen
4 Min Read

CAIRO: Despite popular belief, some experts and media observers do not think that the son of President Mubarak, Gamal’s marriage is grooming him to assume Egypt’s top official position.

Gamal Mubarak married Khadiga El-Gammal Saturday, at a family ceremony in the presidential palace. The wedding was presided over by one of Egypt s top government-appointed clerics.

A larger reception was then held, also at the presidential palace, and a wedding party in Sharm El-Sheikh is planned for May 4, to coincide with President Mubarak s 79th birthday.

It is widely believed that 43-year-old Gamal Mubarak, a former investment banker and current Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Policies Committee in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), is being groomed to take over the presidency from his father, despite strong denials from the Mubarak family.

Mubarak has played an increasingly influential role over recent years since his appointment within the NDP, having had a large say in the appointment of Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif s cabinet, and meeting with top US officials last year.

He has been in equal measures praised and criticized for his close ties to the business world, and was referred to as a young reformer by US President George Bush.

Many analysts have argued that his marriage to Khadiga El-Gammal, a graduate of the American University in Cairo and daughter of a wealthy building contractor, is little more than an attempt to improve his public image, as Egyptians would not accept an unmarried head of state.

Said Aly, chairman of Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, is not convinced however, and believes Gamal Mubarak s marriage is no different to any other.

Does this mean he will become president? No. I am not one of the people who believes this theory, he told The Daily Star Egypt.

Egypt is not Syria, he said, referring to Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad s takeover after his late father, Hafez Al-Assad in 2000.

Nothing like this has ever happened before here and Egypt would have to change fundamentally for something like this to happen.

Speaking to The Daily Star Egypt Mohamed Khalil Kwaitah, an MP representing the NDP, also denied that the marriage was in any way related to Gamal Mubarak s presidential ambitions, namely because he does not hold any.

Tawreeth [hereditary handover of power] is out of the question, he said.

President Mubarak himself has said that [Gamal succeeding him] is not an option.

Walid Kazziha, political science professor at AUC, does believe that Gamal Mubarak will eventually run for the presidency, but doubts that his marriage has anything to do with it.

His marriage was a long time coming, Kazziha told The Daily Star Egypt.

Probably it will make his presidential candidacy more plausible, but I don t think that it was part of any plan.

When the next presidential elections are held though, Kazziha believes Gamal Mubarak is the prime candidate.

The grounds for his candidacy have been well prepared, he said.

He has a high position in the NDP party, and they have been involving him more and more in the political and social life of the country.

He is making international contacts too, and has met with world leaders like the president and vice president of America.

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