Egypt's election flurry intensifies

Posters of President Hosni Mubarak's son have emerged on Cairo streets.

gamal mubarak 311 (photo credit: AP)
gamal mubarak 311
(photo credit: AP)
Campaign posters supporting the presidential candidacy of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's son are popping up across Cairo, local media is reporting. 
The posters, depicting the portrait of 47-year-old Gamal Mubarak, were signed by "the Popular Coalition for the Support of Gamal Mubarak," a previously unknown group, reported Al-Masry Al-Youm, an Egyptian daily.
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The younger Mubarak, who serves as General Secretary of the Policy Committee in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), has not officially announced his candidacy for the position of president in the upcoming elections, which are set for 2011.
"This may be a test balloon or just an attempt at flattery by opportunists," Wael Abbas, a Cairo-based blogger told The Media Line. "There are many people who stand to gain from Mubarak's ascendancy: businessmen, politicians, clerks." 
Abbas downplayed the significance of the posters, saying they only appeared in limited areas, and specifically in downtrodden Cairo neighborhoods.
"It could also be an attempt by the Egyptian Intelligence to 'feel the pulse' of public opinion," he said. "Considering Mubarak himself hasn't announced his candidacy, this just doesn't make sense."
Gamal Fahmy, head of Arab and Foreign Affairs in the Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate, argued that the Mubarak family was slowly trying to push a dynasty on Egypt.
"The appearance of the posters is a failed attempt at justifying Mubarak as heir," he told The Media Line. "All walks of the Egyptian public unanimously reject the idea of inheritance of power and the notion of Gamal Mubarak's nomination. All government efforts are being exerted on his candidacy, but these efforts are doomed to fail."     
Magdi Alkurdi, who founded the Popular Coalition for the Support of Gamal Mubarak, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that his initiative follows the emergence of "the National Association for Change" led by Dr. Muhammad Al-Barade’i, former head of the IAEA, who recently announced his intention to run in the upcoming elections. 
President Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) has intensified its attacks on Al-Barade’i, whose association recently began to collect signatures in favor of political reforms and constitutional amendments. Dr. Hamdi Zaqzouq, Egypt’s Minister of Endowments, announced that he will prohibit the use of mosques for political campaigning following Al-Barade'i's recent participation in a demonstration calling for an investigation into the killing of a young man by police in Alexandria.    
"Al-Barade’i is an alternative for many Egyptians," said Fahmy. "In the recent past people were disappointed about the lack of alternative, but today many feel that there are Democratic alternatives to Mubarak." 
"The Egyptian citizen today is more politically conscious following the rise of new political movements in Egypt," he added. "Today people know that it is their right to democratically elect the alternative."    
Competition to be Egypt's next president has mounted recently in light of the ailing health of 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak. The Washington Times recently reported that Mubarak is suffering from terminal cancer of the stomach and pancreas: a report was based on western intelligence sources. Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt since 1981, concludes his fifth term as president in 2011.
The Egyptian election law was changed by Mubarak in early 2005, allowing multi-candidate elections for the first time. However, severe restrictions placed on candidates by the law, as well as the arrest of candidate Ayman Nour following the 2005 elections, have called into question the significance of this change.