A Presidential Battle without Candidate, in al-Hayat by Mohammad Salah

Just by reading the tittle we could expect an article about Morocco, or Algeria or Tunisia, Syria but unfortunately the list get longer now with the issues of Mubarak succession in Egypt.

N.S

Sun, 25 October 2009
Mohammad Salah

The media and Egyptian political groups insist on busying the public with the names of people it believes are suitable candidates for presidential elections two years from now. Egyptians wake up every day to news of the intention of this or that person to run and compete against the ruling National Democratic Party. This is regardless of whether President Husni Mubarak decides to nominate himself for a sixth term, or whether the expectations are correct, and his son Jamal Mubarak is nominated for the post. The important thing is that the issue has transcended the objections to the extension for Mubarak, something that the Kifaya movement has warned about for years, or the opposition to seeing power pass from father to son, which the No Hereditary Succession movement has now adopted. This group includes leading figures from Kifaya as well. The Egyptian political scene has reached the point of playing up the issue of presidential elections and taking it out of its true context. We should note that none of those whose names have been mentioned in recent days has announced his intention or determination to think about the matter; they always respond to questions posed by the media in press interviews, television programs or quotes on the run with generalities; these include praise of President Mubarak and an affirmation that his son Jamal “and others” have the right to run for office. When it is time for a question requiring a specific answer, such as whether the person intends to run, the answer has more than one meaning. Usually, they are diplomatic answers, and lack a clear denial or confirmation, since the Constitution “guarantees the right of each citizen to be a candidate.”

In general, most of the names that have appeared in the media recently – Dr. Ahmad Zoueil, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Mohammed El-Baradei, and the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa – are not allowed by the Constitution to run. It stipulates that the candidate must have been a high-ranking member of a party for at least a full year prior to the poll, and none of the three mentioned above is a party member in the first place. The independents who do not belong to parties are required to receive a big “quota” of votes from members of the People’s Assembly, Shura Council and local councils, where the NDP enjoys a majority. Moreover, two of the three individuals will be around 70 by the time the poll takes place. In fact, the majority of existing parties do not take part in the rush of candidacies, despite their stance on the candidacy of Jamal Mubarak. Perhaps this is because they would be greatly embarrassed; it would appear that a party that courts a well-known figure and convinces him to join, then elevates him to a high post, so that he can be a candidate, lacks people who are good enough to run in the first place. In fact, each segment of the population has come to believe that a public figure occupies a prominent post is an example of the president for the future, irrespective of other qualifications that a president should have, such as residing in the country for a sufficient period of time, so that he can be directly connected to the affairs and issues of citizens.

Despite the amendments to Article 79 of the Constitution, which specify the selection of a president in a free election from among a group of candidates, instead of the previous referendum system, there are constraints that continue to render candidacy for president a monopoly for the same people, whether they are from the NDP or opposition parties. This makes the candidacy of independents nearly impossible. Instead of wasting people’s mental efforts with candidates who do not fulfill the candidacy requirements in the first place, these constraints should be reduced and laws should be set down guaranteeing fair competition among all candidates, even if they include a president or his son. In fact, political circles in Egypt now indicate that football fans – in the event that Egypt defeats Algeria in a match on 14 November, which is being followed much more closely than political issues – will demand that the player Mohammed Abu Treika, who is loved by fans in Egypt and the Arab world, should rule Egypt: “President Abu Treika.”

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Filed under Elections, English, Politics

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