CAIRO: Speaker of Egypt’s Shoura Council Safwat El-Sherif said Wednesday that the National Democratic Party (NDP) has decided to nominate incumbent President Hosni Mubarak for a sixth term in office.
President Mubarak, 82, has not yet accepted the nomination.
In an interview with "Al-Musawwir" magazine, El-Sherif said that the final decision is up to the president.
Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, MP and secretary general of Al-Wafd party, told Daily News Egypt, “In light of the prevailing culture in Egypt now, it’s natural and expected that the NDP would choose to nominate the current [resident and the head of their party.”
Several campaigns were launched recently supporting Gamal Mubarak, son of President Mubarak, for president in the 2011 elections. It is widely believed that members of the NDP are behind these campaigns.
El-Sherif strongly denied having any relationship with the pro-Gamal campaigns, adding that the NDP had even denounced these campaigns in their meetings.
However, NDP Information Secretary Ali El-Din Helal said in television interview earlier this week that Gamal Mubarak was a possible NDP candidate for the upcoming elections.
Helal said, “We can’t force President Mubarak to run in the next presidential elections, the decision is up to him depending on his circumstances and his view (for the future). If he decides to run, then we will support him 100 percent, if he decides against it, then Gamal Mubarak would be a suitable candidate.”
Helal added that the NDP had yet to decide who would represent them in the presidential race.
Ayman Nour, president and founder of Al-Ghad Party, said these statements highlight the divisions within the NDP.
“These are all misleading and conflicting statements that shed light on the conflict among the wings of the NDP,” he said.
“It doesn’t make sense that the 82-year-old President Mubarak will enter a new six-year presidential term to leave office when he’s 90 years old. It seems that Article 76 of the constitution will seal the deal for Gamal Mubarak [as the coming president],” he added.
Article 76 of the Egyptian constitution set nearly impossible conditions for independent candidates to run and for opposition parties to get candidates to join in the presidential race.
Karima Al-Hifnawy, member of the National Association for Change and the Kefaya opposition movement, said Gamal Mubarak is considered the NDP’s back-up plan in case the president decides not to run for a new term.
“There has been news about the presidents’ health recently, of course we don’t want any harm to happen to the president despite our differences, but he might not be able to resume his duties for a new presidential term or he might refuse to do so.” Al-Hifnawy told Daily News Egypt.
“That’s why the NDP helped launch all these pro-Gamal campaigns to prepare the people for a different scenario, which helps the NDP remain in power,” she added.
Concerns about the president’s health escalated recently following his surgery in Germany, which took place in March. Many believe that Gamal Mubarak is being groomed to walk in his father’s footsteps sparking fury among opposition groups.
“We are not against Gamal Mubarak as a person, we are against the concept of inheriting power, we are also against this regime as a whole, we don’t want Gamal Mubarak or any other NDP members to be president, we want real change.” El Hifnawy said.
Nabil Abdel-Fattah, researched at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, divided the NDP into two groups: the “businessmen from the NDP’s influential policy committee” who support Gamal Mubarak for president and the “governing elite,” who follow the traditions and rules of the July 1952 Egyptian revolution and support Hosni Mubarak.
Abdel Fattah told Daily News Egypt that the “governing elite” is more powerful and more likely to win the feud. “The pro-Gamal initiative doesn’t have any weight in the political arena and can’t affect the public opinion,” he said.
“Until now, all indications show that President Mubarak will be the one running for the next presidential elections,” he added.
President Mubarak has been ruling Egypt since 1981, and is one of the Arab world’s longest-serving leaders.
El-Sherif also commented on the upcoming parliamentary elections in November saying that it is unlikely for the Muslim Brotherhood to repeat its win in 2005.
The spokesman of the MB parliamentary bloc, Hamdy Hassan, told Daily News Egypt, “The NDP dares to [ignore] the people’s will by forging the elections like it always does, all democratic countries respect the will of their people, but this is a dictatorship that respects nothing.”
MB members ran as independent candidates in 2005 and won 88 percent of the seats.
El-Sherif added that there was no secret agreement between the NDP and the MB regarding the coming parliamentary elections and stressed that the NDP is aiming to win the majority of the seats.