Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
11 - 17 May 2000
Issue No. 481
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

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Catching up with global progress

Gamal Mubarak Gamal Mubarak, a member of the General Secretariat of the ruling National Democratic Party, has made it clear that any talk of his candidacy in the November parliamentary elections is "premature." During a visit with the editorial staff of the Middle East News Agency, Gamal Mubarak said, "I never spoke to anybody about running for election. What has been said is based upon assumptions with which I had nothing to do."

Gamal Mubarak added, "I contribute to the best of my ability to any initiative, whether political, social or economic." Mubarak recalled that his name had once been mentioned as a member of a group planning to establish a new independent political party. "This is not correct," he said, "although I respect everybody's right to think about founding a political party."

Gamal Mubarak expressed hope that the coming elections would feature an "ideological contest" between the platforms of the various parties, but emphasised that "dialogue" should be the salient characteristic of pre-election campaigning. "The state will impose guidelines and take measures to check the violence and hooliganism that accompanied the 1995 elections -- a phenomenon alien to Egyptian society," he said. "The state will also expand judicial supervision of polling stations to ensure the integrity of the elections."

Turning to the national economy, Gamal Mubarak, who is spokesman for the Egyptian side of the Egyptian-US Presidents' Council, said the overall condition of the economy was "reassuring" and he affirmed the importance of fostering a "greater commitment to transparency and harmonising the efforts of all sections of society." Despite the economic challenges, Gamal Mubarak insisted the overall picture is "not dark." He pointed out that Egypt does not need foreign loans. "The percentage of foreign funds invested in the Egyptian stock exchange is a comfortable percentage and the situation of the foreign debt is reassuring."

Regarding the issue of greater technological cooperation with the United States, he dismissed concerns that it would increase Egyptian vulnerability to American pressure. Gamal Mubarak said that cooperation with the United States in the transfer of technology is not linked to American aid. He insisted it will "not constitute a tool of pressure." He said America views Egypt as a "pivotal" state in the region and any talk of American pressure or pre-conditions should be dismissed.

The real challenge facing Egypt, he said, is sustaining the success of the economic reform programme and "building up the national institutions, whether governmental or private." Egyptians now live in a "new world governed by giant entities and groupings and regional and international economic and financial institutions that must be matched by strong national institutions," Gamal Mubarak said.

Success, he added, is closely linked to preparing today a second and third generation of administrative and technical leaders for the challenges of the future. "The Presidents' Council is focusing its efforts at present on the development of human resources, particularly training in information technology," he said.

Mubarak discussed the importance of transparency in economic, financial and fiscal policies and warned that "the opposite will have negative consequences."

Gamal Mubarak said that the door is open for young people, NGOs and political parties to engage in political activity. The development of human resources should begin with the reform of the education system, but he pointed out that there are different perspectives on reform. "Are we proceeding in the right direction? And if the answer is 'yes,' are we moving fast enough to catch up with the cavalcade of global progress?" he pondered.

"If we assume that the process of reforming the education system is progressing at the required speed, the results of this reform will not be felt except after 10-15 years," Gamal Mubarak said. "But what we need is a major sprint in the development of human resources in all sectors within three or four years."

As for the participation of young people in political action, Gamal Mubarak pointed out that one half of society is made up of young people, aged between 25 and 30. "Young people should be encouraged to play an effective role in political action, and to have a voice, each according to his specialisation." he argued.

Gamal Mubarak said that new vision is needed for dealing with the new world order. He pointed out, "There are mixed interests in the new world and this imposes on us new challenges that did not exist three or four years ago." These include the economic crisis in Asia, the decline of tourism revenue, fluctuating oil prices and the increase of imports. All have contributed to the current liquidity squeeze and the state budget deficit. "The government dealt with this matter by pouring cash reserves into the market, and drawing up guidelines and mechanisms for controlling market dealings," he said.

Regarding Middle East peace-making, Gamal Mubarak said that Egypt is playing a "pioneer and vital" role in this connection. "We have to think now of the nature of the Egyptian role after a just and comprehensive peace is achieved," he said. "The achievement of peace is inevitable after all the states of the region became convinced that it was in their interest and the interest of their peoples to renounce war," Gamal Mubarak added.

Peace may be achieved in one, two or three years, he argued, "and we should start thinking about the nature of the Egyptian role and also Egypt's role in the Arab world. Is the Arab world moving in the direction of its people's aspirations? And what are the obstacles that may stand in the way of the realisation of some Arab objectives or aspirations?" he asked.

The Egyptian press and media should discharge their responsibility of explaining national objectives, including political reform, to the world, he said. "The role of the press and media in this connection should be to analyse the economic situation and convey a true and honest picture of economic reform in order to win the trust of investors," Gamal Mubarak explained. He expressed confidence that the press and media are capable of shouldering this responsibility. Yet he warned, "If the press and media are not capable of playing this vital role and catching up with developments, such as economic reform and openness unto the world, the result will be negative."

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