New Egypt front opposes father-son succession

New Egypt front opposes

A group of Egypt's opposition forces, including a former presidential candidate, launched a campaign Wednesday to oppose what is widely seen as the increasingly inevitable succession of the long-ruling president's son. The campaign, entitled "Who gave you the right?" or "Mayehkomsh" in Arabic, kicked off on the 28th anniversary of President Hosni Mubarak's inauguration in 1981. Mubarak, 81, has no designated successor and there is widespread speculation that he plans to pass power over to his son, Gamal. The 45-year old former banker has become increasingly influential in the ruling party over the last decade. "Our constitution is for a republic not a kingdom," said Ayman Nour, who came a distant second to Mubarak in 2005 presidential elections, the country's first featuring multiple candidates. "This is a campaign to confront this irregular ... illogical state where a president-in-waiting is practicing all the duties of the president already," he added. Nour hosted the event at the downtown Cairo offices of his liberal party. Loudspeakers and a large screen TV transmitted the event to people walking through one of Cairo's busiest squares. While most shoppers ignored the noise, a small crowd did gather and follow the speeches intently. After garnering nearly a million votes in his campaign against Mubarak, Nour was charged with forgery and imprisoned for just over three years, in a case widely seen as politically motivated. While Egypt is nominally a democracy with parliamentary and presidential elections, the ruling party has a hammerlock on all levels of the government, and the opposition is aging and fragmented. Representatives from across the spectrum of Egypt's opposition were present at the event, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, the largest and best organized opposition force in the country with 20 percent of parliament's seats. Hundreds of the group's members have been imprisoned over the past few years in an ongoing crackdown. The campaign organizers were not clear on exactly how they would stop a father-son succession scenario and previous campaigns against Mubarak's rule and the possible rise of his son have fizzled quickly under a heavy security crackdown. A staunch Mubarak critic, journalist Abdel Halim Qandil, said the group is considering many options, including suing the junior Mubarak, boycotting the parliamentary elections and organizing civil disobedience. The nephew of former president Anwar Sadat, who also joined the campaign, was cautious about how much it could achieve. "It is a campaign that expresses the view of the majority of Egyptians," Anwar Esmat Sadat said. "There are many conflicting opinions within. It will be hard to agree on what to do."