CAIRO: The ruling National Democratic party will name the presidential candidate during a general conference that will be held prior to the presidential elections in 2011, Gamal Mubarak, the head of the NDP Policies Committee, said in a press conference Monday.
During the same year, the party will make “tough” economic decisions, he added.
The ruling National Democratic party’s annual conference is not entitled to name the presidential candidate, Gamal Mubarak, the head of the NDP Policies Committee, said in a press conference Monday.
Gamal Mubarak, who is also the party’s Assistant Secretary General and is President Hosni Mubarak’s son, told reporters at the 7th Annual NDP conference that this convention is not entitled to name the presidential candidate.
According to Gamal Mubarak, the presidential polls will be held in September 2011, with the names of candidates to be announced 60 days beforehand.
Gamal Mubarak’s statements preceded similar confirmations by Moufid Shehab, the NDP Assistant Secretary General for Parliamentary Affairs, who said that the 2010 annual conference was not held in order to name the party’s presidential candidate. Analysts argue that Gamal Mubarak has been groomed to succeed his father.
One month before the parliamentary elections, NDP senior member Ali Eddin Helal announced that President Hosni Mubarak will be the party’s official candidate if he expresses his willingness to run.
Asked about the alternative parliament formed by a number of former opposition MPs, Gamal Mubarak said that he has been researching this issue.
“[But] what is clear is that it has no legal basis … I’m still trying to analyze this phenomenon,” Gamal Mubarak said. “In the past five years, there have been alliances and collations [formed by] opposition groups, despite the differences among them.”
Right as 514 newly elected and appointed MPs were sworn into the People’s Assembly (PA) on Dec. 13, approximately 30 members of Al-Wafd and Al-Karama political parties, the officially banned Muslim Brotherhood, as well as independent former MPs took the MP oath of allegiance in unison.
Opposition and human rights groups called for dissolving what they described as a “null and void” PA following allegations of vote rigging and various election violations committed by authorities to favor NDP candidates. The NDP won a sweeping majority in the country’s Lower House of Parliament, taking 420 seats out of 508.
Gamal Mubarak expressed the NDP’s readiness to engage in a dialogue with “legitimate” political parties.
“We consistently care about communicating with [other] political parties, apart from the [PA] elections results,” he said. “[Regardless] of our differences, what we share is our vision for the secular state, the principle of citizenship, and [separating] religion from politics.”
The party, he added, has to make "tough" economic decisions to improve the country’s economic prospects.
Gamal Mubarak said the steps would include pushing through a new pension and social insurance law as well as encouraging private sector finances into public infrastructure projects to raise three times as much as the government investment budget.
Economic reform policies pursued by Gamal Mubarak and his team of reform-minded ministers have sparked protests in Egypt because they were viewed for the most part as biased against the poor.
The proposed social program reform has already set off controversy. It raises the insurable size of salaries and allows the government to invest in insurance and pension funds.
Gamal Mubarak said previous economic policies "shielded" millions of Egyptian families from the impact of the international economic crisis and said protests were "not unique" to Egypt.
He said a new wave of "ambitious and more daring" economic reform policies are needed to restore Egypt’s growth rates to 7-8 percent.
"We will invest a lot of effort in engaging (the people) much more than we have in the past five years, because we know we have a lot of challenges, and we have some tough calls to make in the next few years," he said. –Additional reporting by AP.