Presidential hopeful wants chance to address parliament

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CAIRO: A presidential candidate hopeful asked the parliament Wednesday to allow independent candidates to discuss their political programs with MPs in public sessions before the July 2011 registration.

“I believe that now is an appropriate time for presidential candidates to prepare and [to] start discussing their political programs with the parliament in order to gain their support,” Mohamed Mohie Eddin told Daily News Egypt.

Article 76 of Egypt’s constitution states that any independent presidential candidate needs the support of 250 legislative representatives from the upper and lower houses of parliament and municipal councils to be allowed to run — all of which are dominated by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

The presidential elections will be held in September 2011, and the names of candidates will be announced in July.

Mohie Eddin, a 40-year-old professor in Alexandria University’s Faculty of Engineering, ran in the 2005 parliamentary elections in Alexandria as an independent candidate. However, he left the race empty-handed.

He announced in 2009 that he would run for the Egyptian presidency, and created a Facebook group that garnered 4,097 supporters. The group is called “Mohamed Mohie Eddin … Independent candidate for Egypt’s presidency.”

Mohie Eddin, however, isn’t considered a prominent political figure or a known face on the political scene.

“I actively participate in the political arena and [regularly] attend the meetings that call for reform and change organized by the National Association for Change (NAC) and Al-Wafd parties,” Mohie Eddin stated.

“I personally believe that the reason I’m not well-known is because the prominent political figures don’t want a new player to appear on the political scene,” he added. “Like the NDP, [other political parties] prefer to avoid [further] competition.”

Mohie Eddin argued that the two or three weeks that make the candidate registration period “aren’t nearly enough time to announce our political programs and to garner the support we need according to the constitution.”

“We would barely have enough time if we [started right] now.”

He cited Article 8 and Article 40 of the constitution in his letter, which respectively stipulate that “the state shall guarantee equality of opportunity to all Egyptians” and that “all citizens are equal before the law.”

“The prior articles mentioned, and the essence of Article 76 of the Egyptian constitution, require the parliament to allow independent candidates to discuss their political programs to enable them to acquire the support cited by the constitution within an appropriate time frame prior to the beginning of registration,” read Mohie Eddin’s letter.

“I believe this is a legitimate request that should be granted to all presidential candidates,” Nabil Abdel Fattah, a political analyst from Al-Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies, told Daily News Egypt.

“But this request will face many obstacles from the NDP, as the presidential elections have already been booked for the next NDP candidate.”

President Hosni Mubarak, now 82 years old, has been in power since 1981. The NDP has yet to announce who will be its next presidential candidate. There is wide speculation that Hosni Mubarak’s son, Gamal, is being groomed to walk in his father’s footsteps.

“Egypt is a country filled with qualified individuals who are capable of leading the Egyptian people … these people should have the opportunity to run for president,” Mohie Eddin said.

“The presidency shouldn’t be monopolized by [President Hosni Mubarak] or his son [Gamal Mubarak].”

Former IAEA Chief Mohamed ElBaradei called on opposition groups in December to unite and boycott the upcoming 2011 presidential elections if they are not given guarantees that the elections would be free and fair.

“Article 76 ruined any chance [for] independent candidates to run for the presidency,” Abdel Gelil Mostafa, the general coordinator of the National Association for Change (NAC) — founded by ElBaradei — told Daily News Egypt.

“The case is closed.

“With all due respect to Mohie Eddin — who I don’t know, by the way — his endeavor will lead to nothing,” Mostafa added.

“[Mohie Eddin] will never be able to gain the support [of] members from the People’s Assembly (the lower house of parliament) or the Shoura Council (the upper house of parliament), which are dominated by the NDP.”

Mohie Eddin indicated that he was aware of the difficulties ahead, but he remained resilient. “I am a middle-class, ordinary citizen, who has no party or organization to support him in the political arena,” Mohei Eldin stated. “Even if my demands aren’t heeded by the parliament, I hope they will encourage ordinary Egyptian citizens to participate in the political arena and to be positive individuals.”

Abdel Fattah said that it was a positive sign that independent individuals were taking the initiative to try their hand in politics.

“It’s essential and vital that independent individuals take the initiative to participate in the political arena and revitalize the political scene,” Abdel Fattah said, adding that Mohie Eddin’s chances of acquiring a nomination are impossible.




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