14 - 20 September 2000
Issue No. 499
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
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The winds of changeThe ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) announced last Sunday an incomplete list of its most prominent candidates for the coming parliamentary elections, now scheduled to begin on 18 October. Following a ministerial meeting under President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria, Information Minister Safwat El-Sherif announced that the NDP will field 444 candidates in the nation's 222 constituencies.
Although President Mubarak gave orders that the complete list of NDP candidates be announced next Sunday, an initial list of almost 80 candidates has officially been divulged. El-Sherif announced that new faces make up 42 per cent of the names on the list, compared to 35 per cent in the last elections of 1995. This means that the names of approximately 260 members of the outgoing Assembly are on the list while 180 others were excluded. Overall, between 2,500 and 3,000 NDP members, who wanted to contest the elections, had their applications turned down. Many of them are expected to run as independents regardless of an NDP threat to expel them from party ranks.
According to the initial list, the NDP is nominating six cabinet ministers, two of them members of the outgoing Assembly. The two veterans are Youssef Wali, deputy prime minister, minister of agriculture and the NDP's secretary-general, who is running in Ibshway (Fayoum), and Kamal El-Shazli, minister of state for parliamentary affairs and NDP secretary for organisational affairs.
The four cabinet ministers who are contesting elections for the first time are: Youssef Boutros Ghali, minister of economy and foreign trade, running in the constituency of Al-Ma'ahad Al-Fanni (Technical Institute) in the northern Cairo district of Shubra; Sayed Mash'al, minister of state for military production, running in the southern Cairo suburb of Helwan; Ibrahim Suleiman, minister of housing and new communities, running in Fatimid Cairo's Al-Gamaliya district; and Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, minister of irrigation and water resources, running in Nahtai district in the Delta governorate of Al-Gharbiya.
The initial list also includes three former cabinet ministers who were members of the outgoing Assembly. They are Maher Abaza, running in the district of Al-Tilien in Al-Sharqiya governorate, Mohamed Ali Mahgoub, running in the district of Al-Tibbeen, south of Cairo, and Mahmoud El-Sherif running in the district of Mansoura in Al-Daqahliya governorate.
The initial list also includes nine women, compared to seven in 1995. NDP sources disclosed that the complete list will include 11 women candidates. Six were members of former parliaments. They are: Amal Osman, running in Doqqi (Giza), Fayda Kamel, running in Al-Khalifa (southern Cairo), Soraya Labna, running in Nasr City (eastern Cairo), Galila Awad, running in Ras Sidr (southern Sinai), Widad Shalabi, running in Al-Attareen (Alexandria), and Fardoos El-Awdan, running in Kafr Al-Sheikh. The three new ones are Mariam Mustafa, running in Bab Sharki (Alexandria), Ragaa Mohamed Gad, running in Al-Arbieen (Suez governorate), and Awatef Kahk, running in Ibshway (Fayoum). Mustafa is a professor of social development at Alexandria University's Faculty of Arts, and Gad is general manager of the National Population Council's office in Suez. Kahk is NDP's secretary-general for women affairs in Fayoum. The new ones are members of the National Council for Women, which is headed by Mrs Suzanne Mubarak.
The initial list includes two Copts: Minister of Economy Youssef Boutros Ghali and businessman Esmat Nathan, the latter running in the Alexandria district of Ghorbal.
The most controversial names on the NDP list are those of businessmen. The initial list includes 11 businessmen, seven of them members of former parliaments. They are: Mohamed Abul-Enein (ceramic production) running in Giza; Mamdouh Thabet Mekki (leather production) running in Manial Al-Roda (Cairo); Ahmed Khairi (tourism and maritime services) running in Al-Attarin (Alexandria); Amin Hammad (contracting) running in Tanta (Al-Gharbiya governorate); Mahmoud Abul-Kheir (tourism) in Bishbiesh (Al-Gharbiyya governorate); Abdel-Fattah Diab (import of agricultural machinery) running in Aga (Al-Daqahliya governorate), and Abdel-Rahman Baraka (banking) running in Atmida (Al-Daqahliya governorate).
The four businessmen contesting elections as NDP candidates for the first time are Hossam Badrawi, a major investor in medical services, running in downtown Cairo's Qasr Al-Nil district; Ahmed Ezz, a producer of steel and ceramics, running in Menouf (Al-Menoufiya governorate); Ahmed Arafa, a manufacturer of ready-made garments, running in Nasr City; and Coptic businessman Esmat Nathan, a private contractor, running in Ghorbal. Nathan won the party's acclaim when he donated money last year for the construction of a mosque in Ghorbal, becoming a symbol of national unity in Alexandria.
Out of 18 chairmen of parliamentary committees of the outgoing Assembly, the names of 15 were on the initial list. Topping this list are Abdel-Aziz Mustafa (manpower) running in downtown Cairo's Qasr Al-Nil; Abdel-Ahad Gamaleddin (Arab affairs) running in Cairo's Ezbekiya; Mohamed Abdellah (foreign affairs) running in Alexandria's Al-Montazah district; Sherif Omar (health and environment) running in the Sharqiya district of Ashkur; Mohamed Moussa (constitutional affairs) running in Minyet Al-Nasr (Al-Daqahliya governorate) and Abdel-Reheim El-Ghoul (Youth and sports) running in Naga' Hammadi (Qena governorate in upper Egypt).
A major change was the replacement of Saad El-Khawalka, chairman of the outgoing Assembly's transport and communications committee and chairman of the Alexandria chapter of the Engineering Syndicate, by Alexandria University professor Mohamed El-Saadani to run in Al-Raml district. In the same constituency, Saadeddin Abu-Shadi, a company worker, was replaced by Goma'a El-Gharabawi, a member of the Alexandria municipal council.
The initial list includes some public figures, including three who were members of the outgoing Assembly. They are led by Fathi Sorour, speaker of the outgoing Assembly, running in the Cairo district of Sayeda Zeinab. Sorour is expected to be the next parliament's speaker, serving in this post for the third time and for more than 10 years. Others include Zakaria Azmi, chief of the presidential staff, running in eastern Cairo's Al-Zeitoun district, and Hamdi El-Sayed, chairman of the Doctors' Syndicate, running in eastern Cairo's Heliopolis district. A new face is Hamdi El-Konayessi, chairman of Egyptian Radio, running in the Al-Gharbiya district of Berma.
Two chairmen of NDP provincial offices were on the list. They are Salah Shaladim, running in Al-Arbi'in district (Suez), and Hussein Megawer, running in the Maadi suburb, south of Cairo.
Gamal Mubarak, a leading member of the NDP's general-secretariat, commented that the NDP had chosen the best candidates to represent it in parliament. "This is necessary in order to have a parliament that will cooperate with the government in implementing future development plans," Gamal Mubarak announced at a meeting held on Sunday in the Nile Delta city of Tanta. He also revealed that the NDP will undergo major changes following the formation of the new People's Assembly at the end of November. He said that the NDP's platform will be announced on Sunday and that it will highlight the achievements made by the NDP in the past five years. The platform, he added, will affirm that the subsidy of basic foods will continue, education will remain free in its basic stages and the implementation of mega-development projects will be pursued.
In February 1999, President Mubarak, in his capacity as NDP chairman, decided to reshuffle the NDP's politbureau and general secretariat for the first time since 1993. Of particular significance was the promotion of new faces to the NDP's politbureau. Gamal Mubarak and Prime Minister Atef Ebeid were included in the politbureau and 10 cabinet ministers were promoted to high NDP positions.
The number of high-ranking Coptic NDP officials increased from one to six with the inclusion of two Christian cabinet ministers, Youssef Ghali and Environment Minister Nadia Makram Ebeid, as well as others, in the new general secretariat. Two leading businessmen, Ahmed Ezz and Ibrahim Kamel, were also included in the general secretariat, reflecting the priority of economic over political liberalisation.
In the summer of 1998, the NDP held its seventh congress under the slogan "The future of development in Egypt in the next century." The congress, which was attended by 4,200 members, re-elected President Mubarak as NDP chairman for a new six-year term. It was suggested at the congress that the party's "old guard" be invigorated by young blood. Kamal El-Shazli, the NDP's secretary for organisational affairs who is considered a leading member of the old guard, asserted afterwards that the NDP is placing a greater emphasis on grooming its young members for political battles. "President Mubarak's instructions are that a party without young leaders is a party without a future," said El-Shazli.
The establishment of the NDP was announced by the late President Anwar El-Sadat in a 1978 speech marking the 26th anniversary of the July 1952 revolution. The objective of this party, El-Sadat said, was to fill the then existing political vacuum and exclude the old political forces -- an allusion to the Wafd party, which was seeking to stage a comeback at the time -- that seek to revive the control of wealthy capitalists over parliament.
Four years earlier El-Sadat had announced that the Arab Socialist Union (ASU), until then Egypt's sole political party, would have three wings or forums, representing the right, left and centre. Two year later, the ASU was disbanded and the three forums were upgraded to three full-fledged parties. The centrist Arab Socialist Misr Party, under the leadership of then Prime Minister Mamdouh Salem, was formed with the support of President El-Sadat. Observers, however, agree that dramatic events in 1977 and 1978 (especially food price riots and the signing of the Camp David peace agreements), prompted El-Sadat to establish his own political party to rally popular support behind his policies. The party was called the National Democratic Party after the old National Party established by Mustafa Kamel, an anti-British nationalist leader, in 1907, and was joined by most, if not all, members of Salem's Misr Party.
At the NDP's first congress in October 1980, El-Sadat was elected chairman, Hosni Mubarak, deputy chairman, and Fikri Makram Ebeid secretary-general.
One month after the second party congress was held in September 1981, El-Sadat was assassinated and Mubarak took over both as president of the republic and NDP chairman.
Prospects for change
As smoothly as possible
Born at the centre 12 - 18 October 1995
See The 1995 elections