CAIRO: The Shoura Council unanimously re-elected Safwat El-Sherif as the speaker of the council on Tuesday.
We chose him because of his accomplishments during the first term as president, said Mohamed Khalil Kwaitah, a ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) MP.
When asked why there weren t any rivals for El-Sherif, even from the NDP, Kwaitah said that all 259 Shoura deputies found El-Sherif to be most eligible for such a position, especially after the constitutional amendments that gave the council more powers and a bigger legislative role.
El-Sherif s re-election came as no surprise, according to Diaa Rashwan, expert at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
It s customary for prominent NDP figures to continue serving in their positions of power for years, he said, Fathi Sorour, PA speaker, has been in his post for 17 years. The head of the party himself, President Hosni Mubarak, has been in power for 26 years.
The re-election came after the NDP swept the majority of the 88 Shoura council seats in the recent mid-term elections that took place two weeks ago. Their main rivals, the 19 Muslim Brotherhood (MB) candidates, did not garner any of the free spots amid claims of forgery and harassment.
It doesn t make sense after the MB won 17 percent of parliament that they don t win any seats in the Shoura elections, commented Rashwan.
The MB suffered a police crackdown two weeks before the elections that resulted in the arrest of approximately 1,000 of their supporters.
Asked about whether the Brotherhood or any of the opposition parties may retaliate against El-Sherif s re-election, Rashwan dismissed the notion, saying they do not even have any power inside the council.
He added all they can do is denounce the re-election as part of the NDP s monopoly over the major positions of influence in the country.
Following the announcement, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif was quick to declare the results of his Cabinet’s reforms: the increase of GDP by LE 16 billion, decrease of the unemployment rate to nine percent and inflation to 10 percent.
Although leading economist Dr Samir Radwan, assured that the numbers were correct, he did not believe that this meant the Egyptian economy was problem-free.
The man on the street always asks, if the numbers are so good, why can t I feel any improvement in my own life? he said.
For Radwan, there are three main reasons for that, mainly that the reform period is still too short to tell.
Changes in the state deficit and debt and the type of work offered in the Egyptian employment market only began in July 2004.
But, Radawan stressed, The main hurdle is that the kind of work offered in Egypt is of low productivity and low pay.
In his opinion, policy-makers in the coming period need to assess these problems to offer a better life to Egyptians.