CAIRO: Founders of the Egyptian Campaign Against Inheritance of Power refused to include foreign-based activists to avoid “suspicion, they said during a panel discussion Tuesday.
While their statement claimed that the movement comprises all of Egypt’s political powers, public figures and civil society institutions, it excluded activists whose foreign relations might attract criticism and “defame the campaign and its objectives, Abdel Halim Qandil, one of the campaign’s founders, told Daily News Egypt.
“They can work in whatever way they want but we don’t know them very well and we can’t waste time defending them, Qandil, coordinator of the Kefaya movement, said.
Qandil explained that notorious activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, for example, is an American-Egyptian citizen, whose viewpoints regarding the American foreign policy in the region, like Iraq’s invasion, conflict with those of the campaign’s members.
Qandil said they wanted to avoid controversy.
The Egyptian Campaign Against Inheritance of Power was launched earlier this month by opposition forces against the mooted succession of Gamal Mubarak as the country’s next president.
The campaign is the brainchild of 2005 presidential candidate Ayman Nour, and includes numerous opposition parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
The panel discussion titled “Why We Oppose Mubarak’s Regime was held at the Socialist Studies Center and brought together the Kefaya Movement, Al-Ghad Party, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Labor Party, the Socialist Party, the Karama Party, the April 6 Movement, the Freedom of Expression Detainees Committee, the Communist Party and the Democratic Front Party.
“This campaign is targeting Gamal Mubarak specifically; we consider it the high dam in front of him or the regime that would bring him to power, said Mohamed Abdel Qudous, the campaign’s media coordinator.
“There has always been discontent for Gamal Mubarak among people but there was no empirical force to express it; this is the first coalition of its kind and we hope we can mobilize regular citizens toward the cause, he added.
“All this effort means nothing if it doesn’t reach the average citizen who must realize the dangerous situation we are in, and this should be our priority, said Mohamed El-Beltagy, deputy secretary of the Muslim Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc.
Participants criticized economic and foreign policies adopted during President Hosni Mubarak’s reign that led to the “continuous deterioration of Egyptians’ economic conditions and Egypt losing its influence in the region.
Egypt suffers from the highest foreign debt rate since the 19th century – LE 50 billion – and consequently lost its ability to take decisions and adopt policies freely, said Abdel-Khalek Farouq, head of the Freedom of Expression Detainees Committee.
The apparent improvement in the Egyptians’ living standards refers to those working in oil-rich Gulf countries not because of government policies, he added.
According to Qandil, the campaign’s specific objective is to prevent the inheritance of power, distinguishing it from previous political efforts like the Egyptian Coalition for Change, that has a more comprehensive plan for change.
Egypt needs a true democratic environment where candidates have equal chances; until now, I can guarantee that President Mubarak didn t submit the required documents to run in the 2005 elections, Nour said.
Things now are seriously starting to pave the way for Gamal Mubarak; he decided to dedicate a large amount of money for infrastructure projects in Upper Egypt, bypassing the People’s Assembly who has the exclusive right to decide on the budget, he added.
During the panel discussion, Nour criticized the resignation of Mohamed Mansour, minister of transportation, saying it wasn t because of the train crash but because he lost the US support he had from former Vice President Dick Cheney, when he was partnering him in GMC.
Mansour comes from a wealthy family whose company is the sole distributor for General Motors in Egypt.
Nour also explained that all eyes were on Mansour when he lauded Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and recommended him for presidency.
The current regime doesn t want anyone to stand out except Gamal Mubarak, even if it is someone from their own side, he said.