Court orders asset freeze on Mubarak’s party

National Democratic Party's assets are also ordered liquidated; Mubarak, whose health is failing, likely moved to military hospital.

By OREN KESSLER, REUTERS
April 16, 2011 17:11
3 minute read.
Hosni Mubarak

Mubarak 311 Reuters. (photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah )

An Egyptian court on Saturday ordered the dissolution of former president Hosni Mubarak’s political party, meeting a demand of the prodemocracy movement whose protests ended his 30-year authoritarian rule.

The disbanding of the National Democratic Party (NDP) was likely to further appease protesters, who had called off fresh demonstrations after the military council that now rules Egypt ordered Mubarak detained earlier this week for questioning about corruption allegations.

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The NDP had dominated Egyptian politics since it was founded by Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat, in 1978.

For many in Egypt, it epitomized the graft and abuse of power that helped ignite the protests that forced Mubarak to quit in February.

“It’s illogical for any instruments of the regime to remain, now that the regime itself has fallen,” the High Administrative Court said in a statement. The court also ordered the liquidation of NDP assets, with the funds to be returned to the state because, the statement said, “this money is actually the money of the people.”

Mubarak was taken to a military hospital near Cairo on Saturday, three days after his arrest on corruption charges, the Egyptian newspaper Al- Masry Al-Youm reported on its website. The former president was under heavy guard at the International Medical Center of the Armed Forces, the website reported, and his heart condition is not considered life-threatening. Saturday marked Mubarak’s first return to greater Cairo since stepping down in February.

Mubarak was admitted to a hospital in Sharm e-Sheikh on Tuesday, suffering from an unspecified ailment, shortly after he was questioned. On Friday, prosecutors ordered him moved to a military hospital until he is well enough to be interrogated again.

Political analysts described the NDP’s dissolution as an important step toward a multi-party system in Egypt, which is to elect a new parliament and then a president later this year.

“All the central powers in Egypt of the Mubarak regime, all of them, were under the umbrella of the NDP,” said Nabil Abdel Fattah of the Al- Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. He said the party had a vast network extending into villages and city neighborhoods that could be used to mobilize people in elections.

“I think its infrastructure was very powerful,” Abdel Fattah said. “The NDP also had huge money in banks, not just from membership fees, but I think also from businessmen who financed the NDP. The money came from many sources.”

Many of the party’s senior officials have been arrested on graft and other charges and are now in Cairo’s Torah prison.

Mubarak is accused of abusing power, embezzling funds and being responsible for deaths of some protesters.

He has denied any wrongdoing, but many Egyptians see him as a repressive autocrat whose lengthy rule benefited only a few, while perpetuating the grinding poverty of the majority of the country’s 80 million people.

The Obama administration said last week it was “deeply concerned” about the three-year sentence Egyptian authorities handed down to a pro-democracy blogger known for his pro-Israel views, JTA reported.

“We’re deeply concerned and disappointed by his sentencing and, certainly, we call on the Egyptian government to allow all Egyptian citizens the right to express their universal rights,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on April 12, referring to the sentence Maikel Nabil received for his reports on the military government’s continued use of Mubarak-era methods of repression. “This is not the kind of progress we’re looking for.”

Nabil, a pacifist, had been charged with “insulting the military.” He is also known for his outspoken pro-Israel views, a rarity in Egypt.

On Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators gathered at the Israeli consulate in Alexandria to demand the removal of Israel’s ambassador to Egypt and call for Egyptian support of the Palestinians. Protesters held signs reading, “Gaza, my only love,” “Million of martyrs are marching to Jerusalem” and “Here we come” – some of them written in Hebrew.

Protesters called on all Egyptians to support Palestinians in launching the “third intifada” on May 15, the day marked by Palestinians as “Nakba Day” to mourn Israel’s founding.


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