Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt: Repost - “No one can be president of Egypt with an American veto or an Israeli objection”

This article was originally posted Monday, January 18, 2010

Republished kind permission of
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

(IDN) - The statement is clear-cut: “No one can be president of Egypt with an American veto or an Israeli objection.” The source is among the best informed: Mustafa El Fiqui, a celebrated Egyptian intellectual and political analyst, former advisor to President Hosni Mubarak, and current chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the People’s Assembly (Parliament).

In his usual direct style, El Fiqui launched this and other substance-filled statements in an interview this week with leading opposition daily Almasry Alyoum (The Egyptian Today), which focused on the much-talked-about question of who will rule Egypt after Mubarak and who will run in the 2011 elections.

“I believe that President Mubarak will run in the next elections,” said El Fiqui who is known for his numerous political high level contacts and relations.


Then he came out with another clear statement: “I believe that he (Mubarak) has committed himself to working for the Egyptian people until the last breath. . . . This means that he will not give up any presidential mandate.”

Asked if this implies that there will not be any presidential 'inheritance' process in favour of Mubarak's son, Gamal, the man said that in case the presidency is vacant Gamal Mubarak can run as a candidate of the ruling National Party.

El Fiqui was also quite clear when he was questioned if there could be another candidate for the National Party. “I do not think so... Gamal Mubarak is the expected candidate in case of (presidential) vacancy.”

Regarding the decisive stand of the military establishment, which has been ruling Egypt tightly for nearly half a century now, he said, “I believe that the military institution will bless that”.

If so, Gamal Mubarak would then be the first civilian president in five decades.

“Yes, he is a civilian president, but he is the son if a military, and his designation or election is, above all, part of his loyalty to his father. Moreover, his election is the best way to stability. . .”

In view of this, other potential candidates would have little chance. Such would be the case of the until last month director of International Atomic Energy Agency, Egyptian Nobel Laureate Mohammed ELBaradei, who seems ready to run in next elections.

Using a different wording from the heavy, galling state-backed media campaign against ELBaradei, El Fiqui spared no praise for his person and capacity: “I am one of the closest persons to him.”

But (there is always a but) “the issue is how he can move inside the present Egyptian machinery -- he is a prestigious international personality . . . but he is not familiar with the current Egyptian (power) structure.”


“I mean that he (ElBaradei) cannot run as a candidate outside Article 76 (of Egyptian Constitution), which is not an easy article.”

This article, shaped by the Egyptian regime to serve its interests, says, “President of the Republic shall be elected by direct public secret ballot.”

So far so good. The point is what follows:

“For candidature for presidency of the republic to be acceptable, a candidate should be supported by at least 250 elected members of the People's Assembly, the Shura Council and Municipal Councils in governorates, provided that supporters be at least 65 members of the People's Assembly, 25 members of the Shura Council and 10 members of each of the Municipal Councils of at least 14 governorates.”

Considered as one of the most complex and longest ones in the entire Egyptian Constitution, Article 76 comprises as many as 862 words (in its English version), all of them full of conditionality. But there is a specific reason behind.


What reason? According to El Faqui's own words “no man from the street can be put up as a candidate -- as is possible in other countries”.

Therefore “it would be considered as one of the seven impossibles to get the number of (supportive) signatures required. . . .That is very difficult.”

El Fiqui went on to say: “. . . Article 76 has fixed a specific frame for the election of the president of the republic, in such a way that no ordinary (lay) man can run.”

Regarding another potential presidential candidate, Egyptian Amre Mousa, former Foreign minister and current secretary general of the League of Arab States which groups all 22 Arab countries, El Fiqui said that his position “is even more difficult than ElBaradei's”.

Then he explained that Article 76 “is difficult and long, and it was drafted by those who drafted it with care and with their eyes looking at specific objectives”. These objectives are “to ensure that the next Egyptian president will come from (the ruling) National Party”.

“Do you mean Gamal Mubarak?” Almasry Alyoum asked him.

“I cannot say that Gamal Mubarak gave them (those who drafted Article 76) such instructions, neither did the president. But you know, in every regime there are some (people) who read the eyes . . . ,” El Fiqui replied.

The Egyptian regime not only drafted Article 76 in such a difficult and long way, but also Article 77, which has been allowing president Mubarak to be re-elected as many times as the regime deemed necessary.

In fact, it says: “The term of the Presidency is six Gregorian years starting from the date of the announcement of the result of the plebiscite. The President of the Republic may be re-elected for other successive terms.”


In the interview, El Fiqui went on to tackle the extremely sensitive issue of “international influence” on the next presidential candidate in Egypt.

In a further strong statement, El Fiqui said “I do not believe that a next president of Egypt (can come) with an American veto, or with an Israeli objection, unfortunately.”

Asked if this means that the U.S. and Israel will take part in the election of the president, he said: “They will not take part, but they (can) open the doors or close them. I believe they welcome Gamal Mubarak rather than others, simply because they consider that 'who you do know is better than who you do not know’.”

Regarding the near future of Egypt and if it is about entering in the much-feared bleak chaos, El Fiqui was also quite clear: “. . . The presence of strong military forces in Egypt prevents such a bleak chaos.”

He went on to say “We are not in Lebanon. We have a strong military institution, solid, under control, and standing firmly on its feet.”

Therefore, “even in the eventuality of divergences about a candidate, the military institution will have the last word -- therefore, no reason to be concerned. There is a clear Constitution and a military institution that protects the legitimacy when necessary.”

El Fiqui dealt with so many other critical internal issues, always in a clear, direct manner -- so clear and so direct that there would be not need to comment. (IDN-InDepthNews/16.01.2010)

*Kareem Ezzat is a Middle East political analyst.