Egyptians launch online campaign for Gamal Mubarak as president

Campaigners launch Twitter hashtag and Facebook page calling for Gamal, son of former President Hosni Mubarak, to run for president in April 2024.

Mubarak sons
Gamal, right, and Alaa,left, sons of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [File: Khaled Desouki/AFP]

Social media users in Egypt have launched an online campaign in support of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s son as a candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for April next year.

The hashtag “Gamal Mubarak” has been trending on Egyptian Twitter spaces for several days, with social media users sharing old videos of Mubarak, the son, in a show of support for his candidacy in the presidential race.

Campaigners also launched a page on Facebook under the same name in support of Mubarak’s candidacy.

In a post on Twitter, one social media user claimed that the only solution to Egypt’s political and economic crises was Gamal Mubarak as president.

TRANSLATION: “I said it years ago and I will say it again. The solution to Egypt’s political and economic crises is for Gamal Mubarak to run for the elections and become president. With his experience, capabilities and relations, he will be able to transition Egypt towards civil rule, national reconciliation and economic growth. Gamal Mubarak is the solution.”

Another social media user posted on Twitter saying either Mubarak or Ahmed Tantawi, a former MP and Karama party leader, who announced his bid for the 2024 presidential election in February, would be better than President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

TRANSLATION: “I support the candidacy of Gamal Mubarak or Ahmed Tantawi for the presidency, because either of them will be better than the one leading the country now.”

According to the 2019 Egyptian constitution, el-Sisi can run for a third six-year term in 2024.

Despite rumours of Mubarak contesting, he has not made any official comment. But in a 2006 interview with Egyptian talk show host Lamis el-Hadidy, Mubarak said he had neither intention nor desire to run for president.

In response to a tweet by controversial Egyptian businessman Ashraf al-Saad, Alaa Mubarak challenged al-Saad in a now-deleted post to predict the upcoming president. Some saw the response as an indication that Mubarak might run for president.

Earlier this month, al-Saad posted on Twitter a 2013 TV interview clip where he had predicted el-Sisi would become the next president.

Public divide

While some Egyptians have shown strong support for the younger Mubarak to run as president, others have been critical of the possibility, raising concerns over his 2015 release from prison.

Gamal and his brother Alaa were released less than four years after they were first arrested along with their father in April 2011 – a few months after Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February 2011 in the face of a popular uprising.

Security officials said at the time of their release that the two – businessman Alaa and Mubarak’s one-time heir apparent Gamal – along with their father, still faced a retrial on corruption charges. Separately, the two sons also faced trial on insider trading charges.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for almost 30 years, was released from prison in 2017 and died at the age of 91 in 2020. He was widely believed to have been grooming Gamal to succeed him.

Controversial Mubarak legacy

Throughout his rule, Mubarak was a stalwart United States ally, a bulwark against armed groups, and a guardian of Egypt’s peace with Israel.

But to the hundreds of thousands of young Egyptians who rallied for 18 days of unprecedented street protests in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and elsewhere in 2011, Mubarak was a relic, a latter-day pharaoh.

Mubarak had been sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for conspiring to murder 239 demonstrators during the 18-day revolt.

An appeals court ordered a retrial and the case against Mubarak and his senior officials was dropped. He was finally acquitted in 2017.

After his arrest in April 2011, Mubarak spent much of the nearly six years he was in prison in hospitals. Following his release, he was taken to an apartment in Cairo’s Heliopolis district.

Many Egyptians who lived through Mubarak’s time in power view it as “a period of autocracy and crony capitalism”. His overthrow led to Egypt’s first free election, which brought in President Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi lasted only a year in office after mass protests in 2013 led to his overthrow in a coup by then-defence chief General el-Sisi, who is now president.

Over the past decade, Mubarak-era figures were gradually cleared of charges, and laws limiting political freedoms raised fears among activists that the old regime was back.

Source: Al Jazeera