CAIRO: Gamal Mubarak, secretary general of the National Democratic Party’s (NDP) policies committee, said that the party will announce its electoral program for the upcoming parliamentary race in due time.
Speaking Thursday evening in a television interview on “Masr El-Naharda” (Egypt Today), which airs on terrestrial Channel 2, the president’s 46-year-old son added that the party does not need to list its achievements and shortcomings in the latest parliamentary session since this is what they discuss in the annual conference.
It is widely believed that Gamal Mubarak is being groomed to succeed his 82-year-old father, and the idea of succession has been a topic of debate and ire for years.
Gamal Mubarak denied popular opinion that accuses the NDP of focusing solely on economic developments that serve businessmen and the wealthy elite while disregarding social development in the country.
“These are all just (catchy) headlines, that seek to grab the people’s attention before the election season,” he said
However, Amr Hesham, researched at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Daily News Egypt, “Whether it is politically or economically, the NDP focuses on its own interests as a party and the interests of the businessmen.”
“More than 20 percent of the people live under the poverty line, around 10 percent are suffering from unemployment. In order to receive decent education or health care, you need to pay a lot of money which only the wealthy can afford,” he added.
In the interview, Mubarak said that the law approved by the People’s Assembly to increase salaries by 120 percent in 2005 and raise pensions of around 3 to 4 million citizens, as well as expanding the usage of ration cards, is evidence that the NDP does care about the people.
Official spokesman of the Citizens Against High Prices movement, Mahmoud Al-Askalany, told Daily News Egypt: “What Gamal Mubarak said completely contradicts the reality we live in, Egyptian families are dying from hunger.”
“The ration cards don’t supply families with their needs, they have to buy the rest of their needs — sugar, oil and other products — from the market at very expensive prices,” he added.
On the significant hike in food prices and basic commodities, Mubarak said, “This a big problem people are facing,” adding that the NDP will not reduce its subsidies of basic goods and commodities.
“We are merely rationalizing subsidized goods, not reducing [them], so we can provide for the poor families,” he said.
Al-Askalany, however, said that “the government’s policy of subsidizing consumer goods isn’t enough.”
“The government’s economic policies only serves businessmen, not the poor, there’s no justice in income distribution,” he added.
“The middle class is disappearing because of the government’s policies, the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing rapidly, this will eventually lead to a clash between classes and the government will end up paying the pay price for its policies,” he added.
On that note, Mubarak said, “Some people say our social efforts are not distributed equally among the society, we can have a serious conversation about this and discuss it. We welcome criticism because that puts us on the right track.”
Mubarak spoke of his visits to 15 villages around Egypt in accordance with the Millennium Village Project, a UN development program that address poverty, health, gender equality and disease. "The purpose of the visits is to listen to the people to set priorities," he said.
Several campaigns have been launched recently in support of Gamal Mubarak as the next president. Both father and son have denied any plan for a family succession and government officials have knocked down reports that the incumbent president is too ill to serve a sixth term.