Excerpts: Reform stopped.Muslim Brotherhood leaders released.
HEADING:The NDP’s closely-guarded list of parliamentary candidates has
finally been released. It’s full of surprises, reports Gamal Essam El-Din
About 70 per cent of the party’s would-be candidates have since annpunced
that they will run as independents, regardless of the NDP’s threat to expel
tehm from the party if they do so."
"Amr Hashem Rabie, a parliamentary analyst with Al Ahram Centre for
Political and Strategic Studies , believes that the biggest surprise about
the NDP’s list is that there was no real change at all."
"Somr were surprised by the fact that Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali
is the only Coptic NPD official on the list, compared to three in 2000.. The
number of women on the list dropped from 11 in 2000 to a mere five, all of
whom are members of the outgoing assembly."
"NDP business men seem to be the biggest winners, with nearly 30 on the
list, 25 of whom are members of the outgoing assembl,"
Following extensive delays, the National Democratic Party (NDP) announced
that it would be fielding 444 candidates in the nation’s 222 constituencies
during the forthcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled to begin on 9
November. NDP Secretary-General Safwat El-Sherif made the announcement just
a few hours before Saturday’s deadline for submitting nomination
applications ... ..
The delay was hardly unexpected, considering the complications surrounding
the NDP’s list. The primary problem was that nearly 2700 party members
wanted to be on the official ticket. ... .
Around 70 per cent of the party’s would-be candidates have since announced
that they will run as independents, regardless of the NDP’s threat to expel
them from the party if they do so. That dynamic ensures that, once again,
parliamentary elections will feature a confusing situation involving
"NDP-independents" running against official NDP candidates in a lot of
Thirty-five per cent (or 176) of the names on the NDP’s list are newcomers,
El-Sherif said, compared to the 42 per cent who ran last time, in 2000. Two-
hundred-and-fifty of the party’s outgoing parliamentarians are on the list;
130 did not make it.
The biggest surprise was that three cabinet ministers who were aiming to run
... the party is now nominating just six cabinet ministers out of nine who
applied. Five of the nominated ministers are members of the outgoing
. . .
In the lead up to the announcement, speculation abounded regarding how many
of the party’s "old guard" members would make the list. Quite a few did,
including Fathi Sorour, who has been the parliamentary speaker since 1990.
... Sorour was sharply attacked by the opposition for amending Article 76 of
the constitution in a way that strips independent and opposition candidates
of any chance to compete in presidential elections. Sorour’s two veteran
deputies -- Amal Othman and El-Sayed Rashed -- were also nominated .... The
re-nominations of Sorour, Othman and Rashed are a clear indicator that the
party does not aim to change the leadership ... ..
. . .
Amr Hashem Rabie, a parliamentary analyst with Al-Ahram’s Centre for
Political and Strategic Studies, believes that the biggest surprise about
the NDP’s list is that there was no real change at all. "This is a big
victory for the old guard," Rabie said, "since the main pillars that the
regime has depended on to manipulate parliamentary and political life in
favour of NDP governments remained in place." As long as these figures
remain in the assembly, said Rabie, it will be very difficult to fulfill
President Hosni Mubarak’s presidential campaign pledge to enhance the powers
of parliament or create more lively parliamentary politics. "All of these
figures will do their best to maintain the status quo, primarily aiming to
safeguard their entrenched interests and privileges."
Rabie also discredits the argument that 35 per cent of the NDP’s candidates
are "new faces. A lot of them were members of the pre-2000 parliament, which
actually represents another success for the old guard," he said.
. . .
The only good thing about the list, Rabie said, is that it did not include
the party officials who led the attacks against women demonstrators during
last May’s referendum.
Some were surprised by the fact that Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali
is the only Coptic NDP official on the list, compared to three in 2000. The
number of women on the list also dropped from 11 in 2000 to a mere five, all
of whom are members of the outgoing assembly. They are: Amal Othman, running
in Doqqi (Giza); Fayda Kamel, running in Al-Khalifa (Southern Cairo); Soraya
Labina, running in Nasr City (eastern Cairo), Farida El-Zomor, running in
Kerdasah (Giza); and Fayza El-Tahnawi, running in the Upper Egyptian
Governorate of Al-Minya.
NDP businessmen seem to be the biggest winners, with nearly 30 on the list,
25 of whom are members of the outgoing assembly. ... .
+++AL AHRAM WEEKLY 20-26 Oct.’05 " ’Prison is like death’ "
HEADING:"Hours after his release from prison Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam
El-Erian tells Amira Howeidy that Egypt’s security mindset is changing"
QUOTES FROM TEXT:
"arrrests were part of a wider clampdown on the organization after it
had staged mass demonstrations demanding reform"
"There were ... unconfirmed reports that El-Erian was planning to contest
the presidential election"
" ’possible that the authorities have finally realised that arresting us
only draws sympathy to the Muslim Brotherhood ’ "
" ’What has changed ... is the government’s position. Maybe there is
pressure ... the Americans realise they cannot eradicate the Islamists.’ "
Essam El-Erian, the 52-year-old Muslim Brotherhood leader arrested in May,
was finally released on Sunday evening. Speaking to Al-Ahram Weekly the
morning after his release El-Erian was in high spirits and, he admitted,
surprised to be free.
"The way I was arrested ...indicated that things would escalate and the
outcome would be altogether different."
El-Erian was arrested along with three others, including Amr Darag, deputy
president of Cairo University Staff Club and Hamdi Shahine, a Cairo
University professor, when police stormed his house on ... . All were
released on Sunday. The arrests were part of a wider clampdown on the
organisation after it had staged mass demonstrations demanding reform in
Cairo and other governorates. According to the Egyptian Organisation for
Human Rights (EOHR) 1,500 Brotherhood members were detained in May. On the
same day El-Erian was arrested Tarek Ghannam, a Brotherhood member, died
when a demonstration ... was attacked by anti-riot police.
El-Erian’s arrest was interpreted by many as a warning to the group to
desist from organising any further demonstrations alongside the smaller
anti-Mubarak and pro-reform protests staged by the Egyptian Movement for
Change (Kifaya). There were also ...unconfirmed reports that El-Erian was
planning to contest the presidential elections.
"I never confirmed that I would stand," El-Erian told the Weekly. "When I
was asked about it during a BBC interview I replied that the authorities had
tailored the election law to allow only the candidates it wanted. I was
surprised that the authorities misinterpreted my intentions, and that
security reports were filed to that effect."
. . .
"We always say that in Egypt prison is like death. It comes suddenly and
goes just as quickly. There are no guarantees when it comes to freedoms with
this government. We were detained for five months because of the
demonstrations while members of the Kifaya movement, for example, were held
for only a day though they, too, were organising demonstrations."
A member of the 1984 and 1987 parliaments, and assistant secretary-general
of the Doctors Syndicate, El-Erian was a key player in the group’s brief
political flourishing in the 1980s. He was also a witness to the
government’s clampdown in the 1990s. Along with 27 members of the
Brotherhood he was detained in 1995. Six months later the case was referred
to a military court which sentenced him to five years imprisonment with hard
labour for belonging to an illegal group. The sentence coincided with
parliamentary elections which El-Erian, along with other active Brotherhood
members, had planned to contest. It was the first time since 1965 that
members of the outlawed group had faced a military trial.
During his imprisonment El-Erian, who had graduated from medical school and
obtained an MS in clinical pathology and a degree in law, enrolled in
Al-Azhar’s Faculty of Islamic Sharia and Law and the Faculty of Arts’
He remained an important figure within the Brotherhood and became an
influential member of its guidance council following his release in January
Although it has been widely anticipated that El-Erian will contest the 8
November parliamentary elections he says he remains undecided. One important
factor in his decision is his conviction in 1995 before a military court.
While the election law bars anyone convicted of a criminal charge from
standing the status of ex-political detainees who, like El-Erian, were tried
in military courts remains unclear. El-Erian’s lawyer ... however, told the
Weekly his client had no plans to contest the election.
May’s security clampdown on the Muslim Brotherhood triggered condemnation
from international rights groups like Human Rights Watch and influential US
papers, including the Washington Post and New York Times. Although the US
administration has been silent over the issue, at least in public, it has
voiced more general criticisms of the government’s repressive methods.
The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) released a report two
weeks ago on political reform in Egypt which urged the Egyptian government
to clarify the status of the Muslim Brotherhood by legalising the group.
Since El-Erian’s arrest the Muslim Brotherhood has refrained from taking to
the streets, with the exception of recent student protests demanding reform
at Cairo and Ain Shams Universities. The sudden U-turn in the Brotherhood
position was interpreted by many commentators as the price of securing his
"Why should my release have been contingent on a deal?" asks El-Erian.
"Isn’t it possible that the security mentality has changed? After all, there
was no security presence or intervention in September’s presidential
elections and we’re told there won’t be in the parliamentary elections... Of
course, there could be other surprises in store, other ways to control the
election results. But it is perfectly possible that the authorities have
finally realised that arresting us only draws sympathy to the Muslim
Deal or not, the Muslim Brotherhood is clearly operating in a different
political climate and many, including some of the group’s leaders, attribute
to change to US pressure. During previous elections thousands of the group’s
members were systematically arrested. Ahead of the 2000 elections an
estimated 6,000 Brothers were detained. But for months now there hasn’t been
an arrest. And the outlawed group is once again flaunting its motto -- Islam
is the solution -- despite the fact that it violates the election law ban on
using religious discourse and symbols in election campaigns.
El-Erian, who insists that "it’s not wrong to have good relations [with the
authorities]", refuses the irony of having possibly found himself under
external -- ie US -- protection.
"What has changed ...is the government’s position. Maybe there is
pressure -- it’s no secret that even the Americans realise they cannot
eradicate the Islamists. But there is no link whatsoever between the
Brotherhood and the US administration."
Caption: El-Erian reunited with his family after more than five months in
Dr. Joseph Lerner, Co-Director IMRA