In an interview with weekly Mayo published on the eve of his ruling National Democratic Party's (NDP) annual convention, he said: "The NDP bases itself on a tight link between economic reform on the one hand and political and social reforms on the other."

 

The Egyptian president said while the economy needed to be strong in order for political reform to move ahead, economic reform also had to be backed by political change and increased popular participation.

  

"We cannot bring about the political reform we seek given the economic situation and we cannot realise social justice without a strong economy that increases gross domestic product, creates new jobs and increases individual wealth," he said in the interview on Monday. 

 

Popular participation

  

"Nor is it possible to move ahead with consolidating economic reforms without political reform that reinforces popular participation," he added.

  

"We cannot bring about the political reform we seek given the economic situation and we cannot realise social justice without a strong economy"

Husni Mubarak,
Egyptian president

Mubarak, who has been in power for 23 years and looks set to win a fifth five-year term in 2005, says the key to increasing economic growth is to "increase exports, make Egyptian products more competitive and draw more local and foreign investors".

  

The government's first priority is to solve the unemployment problem by reforming the education system to create more productive managers, he said.

  

Unemployment in Egypt is officially estimated at about 10% of the active workforce, or about two million people.

  

Mubarak went on to underline the importance of the NDP's younger members, reckoned by Mayo to account for 60% of the membership.

 

The president praised young people's openness to the rest of the world which could "consolidate the spirit of dialogue and tolerance and force fundamentalism and extremism into retreat".