On 10 May, Egypt's parliament overwhelmingly passed a proposed revision of Article 76 of the country's constitution, allowing - in theory - for multiple candidates to stand in the upcoming general elections.
In part, the amendment states a presidential candidate must either be a member of an official political party or, if running as an independent, get a minimum of 65 recommendations from elected members of the lower house, 25 from the Shura council and 10 from local councils from at least 14 governorates.
Opposition parties cried foul, saying the amendments actually clamped down on any chance of opposition candidates getting nominated.
Ayman Nour, a prominent opposition member of parliament and prospective candidate for the presidential elections, decried the Egyptian government's stalled political reform process and called the amendment abortive and a nail in the coffin of judicial changes.
His al-Ghad (Tomorrow) Party, along with the popular Kifaya (Enough) pro-reform movement and the Muslim Brotherhood, has called for a transparent electoral process and multiple candidates to run for the Egyptian presidency.
Aljazeera.net: Do you think the amendment to Article 76 will help Egypt's democratic process?
The amendment aborted our hope for real reform. They ruined the change we were hoping for. The idea of having more than one candidate became nonsense, because they put obstacles in the path of independent candidates making it impossible for them to run. Now this amendment doesn't give equal opportunity for all candidates, but rather empowers Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Ayman Nour says independent
candidates now face obstacles
This amendment guarantees neither juridical supervision nor internal or external supervision of the elections. It also doesn't guarantee that the country's resources and means won't be used in the elections campaign to favour the government.
Like when the president appeared for seven hours on Egyptian TV at the same time that none of the candidates had access to local broadcast media for even seven minutes.
The Muslim Brotherhood has vowed to keep protesting for reform and one of their presidential candidates was recently jailed. What do you think of their platform and their methods?
The Muslim Brotherhood is a strong trend, and they have a clear presence in Egypt. We, undoubtedly, appreciate all that they have done. But we are a civil party; we have our own vision; and we are different in so many respects. We are not against the Muslim Brotherhood, nor are we against any other trend, because we are a liberal party. We believe in knowing and dealing with other parties. That's why you find sections in Al-Ghad newspaper for Coptic, Muslim and even for Druze voices. So, we are really focused on giving space for all voices.
You told the media that you are considering withdrawing from the race and boycotting the elections. Do you truly intend to withdraw?
I said I would withdraw from the national dialogue as a form of protest against the current political status. But we are not going to give them the privilege of withdrawing from the presidential elections. I will run for the presidency till the last drop of my blood.
In that case, how do you plan on being provided access to the media? Is your voice being heard by the Egyptian layman?
No, we don't really have access to the domestic nor the international media. My voice is not heard, but the war launched against us by the government is a kind of propaganda. It also attracts the media to talk and write about this war and us.
Our voice is heard through their stupidity. For example, my arrest and detainment for 45 days increased the number of people who believed in me and sympathised with our party. All I have are the people who support me.
President Mubarak appeared in a seven-hour programme; I don't need seven days or seven hours, and I don't need 24 years of monopolising the media.
The amendement was rejected
by opposition MPs
All I need, and all I want, are 60 minutes - a live debate with the president before the Egyptian people, in which he has to justify all that has happened in Egypt throughout the last 24 years, and I will prove how we are going to radically change a lot in six years. Six years to repaint Egypt's face with a bright colour.
They want me to thank the president for amending article 76 - I am ready to do that; but before I do, he has to apologise for forging all referendums and polls throughout the last 24 years.
Mubarak has to apologise for the decline of the Egyptian economy, for the recession we are living in, for the unemployment we have, for the exaggerated taxes, for arresting people without a case, and for the emergency laws.
Do you actually believe you can beat Mubarak, who has 24-years of presidential experience to his name?
All of Egypt is going to lose the elections if no one stood against President Mubarak in the elections. I think I have a good opportunity to win the elections if we have democracy in Egypt or even if we have half democracy. We may not have that sort of political climate; but we aren't going to allow the elections to be an easy affair like every time.
What are your domestic and foreign policy election campaign issues?
I am more concerned with domestic issues. For me, foreign affairs are those which are important to Egypt in one way or another. Am not calling for any unity with anyone - I call and care for uniting Egypt. I am not going to spend effort or time on issues that do not concern Egypt. I will spend 90% of my time, as well as my effort, on issues that relate to Egypt's affairs, and 10% for international ones.
Do you have an economic plan for the country?
We have an agenda, and we already introduced it to the national dialogue, which we withdrew from a few days ago. The agenda contains all our economic plans.
There have been reports in some media circles that you promote American interests. Is this true?
No, I am not an agent or, in other words, am not the one who is an agent.
I don't go and make my hajj every year in the White House. I didn't take donations for 30 years. If we are really going to talk about who is an agent and who is not, there are a lot of things I can say to that.
Do you see all the opposition uniting under one candidate, or under one campaign banner?
It is far-fetched, because there are opposition parties who already paid homage to Mubarak. And there are those who play the role of opposition just for the sake of the game; and actually, they are not really opposition but another pro-government face.