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EGYPT: Activist Ayman Nour blasts authorities for travel ban

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Opposition leader Ayman Nour has attacked the ruling regime after he was barred from traveling to the United States, where he was invited to speak about Egypt's political climate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

Nour and a number of Egyptian politicians, including Gamal Mubarak -- a top official in the ruling National Democratic Party and the son of President Hosni Mubarak -- were invited to the Carnegie event. Nour said he is convinced that his travel ban was intended to prevent anti-government figures from spoiling Gamal Mubarak's trip. 

"Mubarak's son wants the lion's share of the Egyptian political sphere, whether that is inside or outside the country," Nour said. "But I will not give him such pleasure, and I will take part in the Carnegie seminar through video conferences." 

The founder and former head of El Ghad opposition party, who was also planning to take part in a number of conferences organized by the Egyptian community in the U.S., previously said that the Egyptian public prosecutor had issued an administrative decision preventing him from going to the U.S. and other nations in the Middle East and Europe.

Gamal Mubarak is being groomed to succeed his father, a scenario resented by many Egyptians who have suffered under the government's economic programs and repressive human-rights policies and don’t want a Mubarak dynasty. Nour and fellow opposition activists and parties recently formed a coalition under the slogan Mayehkomsh ("You don't have the right to rule"), rejecting any succession plan.

After losing to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt's first contested elections in 2005, Nour was sentenced to five years in prison on what are widely regarded as trumped-up charges of forging signatures in order to establish El Ghad party. He was released on health grounds in February and since then has only been allowed to leave the country to receive healthcare abroad.

Nour, who has been touring Egyptian cities to interact with citizens and demonstrate his political vision over the last few months, can't run in the 2011 presidential elections because of his earlier conviction.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Ayman Nour. Credit: AFP
 

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