|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
21 - 27 September 2000
Issue No. 500
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
The Tagammu has nominated 40 candidates, including three women and two Coptic Christians. The following is an educated selection of the offering
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Khaled Mohieddin: past and present in one
A participant in shaping contemporary Egyptian history, Khaled Mohieddin, 78, began his political career as a member of the Free Officers Movement which came to power in 1952 after ousting King Farouk and proclaiming a republic. He also became a member of the Revolution Command Council, the nation's highest policy-making body, only to resign in 1954. The reason was a dispute with Gamal Abdel-Nasser over the return of the military to the barracks and the re-establishment of civilian rule -- a position supported by Mohieddin.
After his resignation, Mohieddin left the country only to be asked by Abdel-Nasser himself in 1955 to launch a leftist newspaper -- Al-Missa. The honeymoon was short-lived, however, and Mohieddin was ousted from his position in 1958 when the newspaper came out in support of Iraq's Abdel-Karim Qassem. In 1976, he returned to the limelight as head of the Tagammu, a position he has held to date.
Mohieddin is the party's candidate for Kafr Shukr in Qalyubiya province. Senior members of the party will boast that even when their leader was barred from political activity, that is until 1990, Mohieddin kept close contact with his constituents, representing their interests wherever and whenever possible. Since 1990 he has served as an MP and he led the parliamentary opposition between 1990-95.
Fathiya El-Assal: dogged determination
A boisterous, chain-smoking woman with a streak of white in coal black hair -- Fathiya El-Assal is a personality to be reckoned with. This is not her first attempt to join parliament: she ran in 1984, 1987 and 1995, but failed. In 1995, she ran in the working-class neighbourhood of Imbaba. "I chose Imbaba, where I was born, because at that time it was a hotbed of Islamist militants. So there I was in Imbaba, an unveiled woman from an opposition party branded as leftist." She lost, her claim being that despite popular success, the forces of "wrongdoing" were too strong.
This year she will run in Qasr El-Nil. "This is where I live as well as where my children live [in the Sayeda Zeinab and Munira districts], and where I also work (for Cairo Television)," explained El-Assal.
She feels well-prepared for the upcoming battle. "My experience in Imbaba made me get over the fear that I used to have regarding how men would react to a woman candidate. I found that when you talk to people about what concerns them, they will accept you," she said.
This year the most important points of her campaign are: linking prices to income, barring the evacuation of poor inhabitants from their homes without proper compensation and loans for artisans. El-Assal is the head of the women's committee at the Tagammu and hence her campaign would not be complete without a gender dimension. "I believe that our personal status law requires further amendment in order to serve the needs of both men and women," she said. "Also the issue of women's right to pass Egyptian citizenship on to their children is of great importance (if they are married to non-Egyptians)."
El-Badri Farghali: populism 2000
El-Badri Farghali is best known for his fiery questions in parliament. In his strong Port Said accent, he asks the difficult questions and fights a tough verbal battle for what he believes in. A trouble- maker you might think? "Hmph! That is what some people would like to call me," he retorts, "but if that is what I am, then I wish everybody in Egypt was a trouble-maker. It would be better for the nation than complacency."
Farghali has been an MP for Port Said for the past 10 years. This year, however, he will be running in a different constituency. "The constituency I usually run for has been taken over by people from outside the governorate who took control of land illegally and changed the voting cards. But the bottom line is that Port Said is one city and one people and I have represented all of its sons."
The main issue on Farghali's campaign agenda is unemployment. "In Port Said we have one of the worst rates of unemployment. The shrinkage of the Free Zone as well as the lack of other forms of employment are like a time-bomb that may explode any time. We have three development projects that are being implemented in our governorate, and yet the government employs people from outside Port Said for these projects! This will be the first item on my agenda. We need new investments and new ideas to create new employment opportunities."
As for his code of conduct, he said: "The fact is that I am at odds with the government regarding the issues which concern the Egyptian people. I see the increase of poverty day after day, I see millions of workers without work and I see corruption. Therefore, it is my duty to be very sharp and very incisive."
Down to earth with few grassroots
'Opposition is not about loud voices'
Realism on the left 2 - 8 November 1995
See The 1995 elections