By Amro Hassan, LATimesblogs.LATimes.com
Opposition leaders and political parties have started a new front to challenge the prospect that President Hosni Mubarak’s son, Gamal, an untested politician with limited domestic and international experience, will succeed in the 2011 elections.
Talk of succession has gripped the country in recent months as Gamal Mubarak’s profile has risen, including a trip to Washington with his 81-year-old father. Gamal is an influential voice in the ruling National Democratic Party. But many Egyptians, who have suffered under the government’s economic programs and repressive human rights policies, don’t want the presidency kept in the Mubarak family.
The new front took the name Mayehkomsh — Egyptian slang for “You don’t have the right to rule” — as its slogan. The question, however, remains: How can a disparate group of opposition parties successfully come together to challenge a police state that has pressured them for years with intimidation and arrests?
The anti-succession coalition, initiated by former presidential candidate and founder of El Ghad party, Ayman Nour, gained momentum in a conference held October 14 among representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Movement for Change (Kefaya), the Democratic Front, the Egyptian Communist party, and the Justice and Development party.
“This is a campaign to confront this irregular and illogical state, where a president-in-waiting is practicing all the duties of the president already,” Nour said at the conference. “Our constitution is for a republic, not a kingdom,” he said.
Hassan Nafee, a professor of political science at Cairo University, was chosen to be general coordinator of the campaign. “Fighting the succession is only part of a bigger project targeting the establishment of a democratic ruling system,” Nafee said.
Nour, who was runner-up to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt’s first contested elections, in 2005, received a five-year imprisonment in December of that year after the government accused him of forging signatures in order to establish his party. He was released on health grounds in February this year and has been strongly calling for democratic reforms and fighting succession plans. He can’t run in the next elections because of his earlier conviction.