Mubarak voices candidacy doubts

Egyptian President Husni Mubarak has said he is still undecided about whether to stand in presidential elections for a fifth six-year term.

    Husni Mubarak has been president since 1981

    In the third part of an interview broadcast on Tuesday, Mubarak said he would think about what to do after parliament passes a law on how the elections scheduled for September will take place.

    "There's an article of the constitution they are still debating in parliament. After the debate ends, they will issue a law on how to choose the president and after this law comes out and comes into effect, I will think about what to do," Mubarak said.

    "I do not want to hurry in taking the decision. By my nature in big decisions I have to study them from all aspects".
    Mubarak has been president since 1981.

    Proposed reforms

    Mubarak, under foreign and domestic pressure to liberalise Egyptian politics, has proposed amending the constitution to allow for multi-candidate presidential elections this year.

    "I do not want to hurry in taking the decision. By my nature in big decisions I have to study them from all aspects"

    Husni Mubarak,
    Egyptian president

    Since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952, parliament has selected a single candidate for the presidency, subject to endorsement by public referendum. The system ensured that incumbents never lost power or faced serious rivals.

    But parliament has not yet set the conditions for candidates to stand for the presidency. The field could be restricted to the leaders of existing political parties, most of whom have little following among the public.

    That would exclude the banned but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood, widely seen as the political force which could pose the most serious challenge to Mubarak.

    Religious parties

    Mubarak noted that parties based on religion were against the law and said members of the Muslim Brotherhood could take part in politics by joining existing parties.

    The independent newspaper al-Masri al-Yawm described the interview, broadcast in parts over three days, as the launch of Mubarak's presidential campaign.

    Demands for Mubarak to step 
    down have been growing  

    Mubarak said that if he stood he would not be upset if he won 60 to 65% of the vote.

    "It wouldn't bother me. I am making a new experiment, with the nomination of two or three people. This is healthy. Whether this person or that person win votes, I would be happy because the people have started to give their opinion," he said.

    The Egyptian leader also dismissed opposition demands for the abolition of the emergency law, which has been in force since 1981, giving authorities the power to detain people for long periods without charges.

    He said Egypt used the law only to combat "terrorism" and that it was not a threat to individual freedoms.

    Opposition candidate

    In a related development, Egypt's leftist Tajammu party said  on Tuesday that it would nominate its former leader and founder to run in presidential polls if there were enough guarantees for a free and fair election.

    The party has decided "to nominate its historic leader Khalid Mohieddin in case the necessary democratic conditions for a clean presidential election exist", the opposition party's secretary general Husain Abd al-Raziq told a journalist.

    Abd al-Raziq said, however, that the party's participation would depend on the extent of constitutional and political reforms the government decides to implement in the runup to the September polls and other conditions.

    These include "the lifting of the state of emergency and the formation of an independent judicial committee elected by the general assembly of the court of cassation to organize the elections".

    He also made Tajammu's participation conditional on the state "allowing parties to organise peaceful demonstrations and distribute campaign leaflets freely and granting candidates equal access to the broadcast media".

    Candidate background

    Mohieddin, 82, stepped down as chairman of Tajammu a few years ago, becoming the first opposition leader in the country to voluntarily quit his post since former president Anwar al-Sadat restored the multi-party system in 1976.

    He was a member of the Free Officers movement that seized power in the 1952 revolution, toppling the monarchy.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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