Al-Ahram Weekly Online   17 - 23 November 2005
Issue No. 769
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Hardly a sore loser

Defiant after losing his parliamentary seat to the NDP, Ghad Party Chairman Ayman Nour tells Mona El-Nahhas he's already preparing for the next battle

You placed second in last September's presidential poll, and then lost your parliamentary seat altogether. While that was a shock for many, you said it wasn't a big surprise. Why?

It was a predictable scenario, just like so much that has taken place since I declared my intention to run for president. The regime will not accept the presence of any real rival. Anyone who looks like an alternative to the NDP must be destroyed. And that undermines all their claims about reform, change and transfer of power. In the lead up to the vote, I felt like I was being challenged -- not just by NDP candidate Yehya Wahdan -- but by all the state's bodies. They wanted my parliamentary seat, and that's why they used an array of electoral fraud techniques to get what they wanted. OK -- let them take the seat; it's not the seat that makes a politician respectable.

You are blaming electoral fraud for your loss. But haven't other factors -- your trial, the splits in your party, and the smear campaign launched against you -- also helped to lower your popularity and contribute to your defeat?

Certainly not... the public is smart enough to know that the state fabricated the forgery case against me, pushed its agents to split the Ghad Party and undermine its unity, and launched the dirty campaign aiming at ruining my reputation and my future. All of this actually increased people's support for me.

Even families in Bab El-Shaereya who I haven't been on good terms with in the past, ended up totally supporting me in the lead up to the elections. I guess they thought my battle with the state was enough of a burden.

Has the defeat darkened your political future?

On the contrary: I believe it will be the beginning of a new battle. From this moment on, I'll start preparing myself for the next presidential elections -- in 2011. This loss will only increase people's sympathy, which will in turn help me a lot. In fact, every time the state hits me, I'm the one who comes out ahead.

But -- having been branded a troublemaker -- won't it be exceedingly difficult for you to regain your seat in 2010? Aren't you worried about the public forgetting all about Ayman Nour?

I don't think people will forget me, especially since I don't plan on quitting politics. Losing one of the tools doesn't necessarily mean I have lost the whole battle. Plus, the non-stop war being waged by the state against me will only raise Ayman Nour's profile in people's minds. Contrary to their expectations, everything that has happened will provide me with incentive to renew my political techniques and tools, and re- activate my role on the political scene.

How will your loss affect other Ghad candidates' chances in the elections' second and third stages?

My loss will definitely reduce other Ghad candidates' chances in the coming two stages. And that is exactly what they [the state] wanted.

Are you taking any legal measures to dispute your loss?

I have filed an appeal before the Administrative Court contesting the authenticity of the Bab El-Shaereya constituency results. The appeal is based on the fact that the parliamentary electoral commission did not implement a court ruling that was handed down three days before the elections, ordering that names of nearly 2000 voters -- who were registered en masse even though they are not Bab El-Shaereya residents -- be deleted from the voters lists. Despite this ruling, we were surprised -- on election day -- to find those same voters, who are actually residents of El-Ezbekiya, being bussed into polling stations in Bab El-Shaereya, where they cast their votes for Wahdan. This type of flagrant violation was the main reason I lost. The court will pass judgment on the matter on 29 November; I hope its ruling will annul the rigged results.

So you see your battle with the state as ongoing?

I expect the battle will continue until the reform and change we aspire to actually take place. We're not going to accept compromises, or change our radical political line. In fact, the more pressure they put on us; the more adamant and determined we become to confront corruption and dictatorship.

What's your prediction for the incoming parliament, based on the results of the first round?

The incoming parliament, mainly dominated by the ruling NDP, is going to embody the same dynamic of "monopolising" the nation's governance as before. We have been paying the price of such political stupidity for a long time, and it looks like we're still going to have to keep paying for it for a while.

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