EGYPT: President's son refuses to commit to presidential aspirations
Gamal Mubarak, the son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and head of the ruling National Democratic Party's policies committee, said his stance on running in next year's presidential elections remains the same as it was in 2005: He's noncommittal.
Answering a reporter on whether his party's winning of an absolute majority in the new parliament would encourage him to be the NDP candidate come 2011, the younger Mubarak said that he "gave an answer to this question five years ago and I've already replied to this question three, four times a year since then. My answer is still unchanged."
He was referring to a response he gave in 2005, when he said he had no interest in running for the presidency.
"The only time you will find out who will be the party's candidate is when the party convenes, sometime before the process starts next July, and makes its final official candidate," Mubarak added during a meeting taking place on the sidelines of the NDP's annual conference on Monday.
Egypt's parliamentary elections last month, marred by accusations of fraud and vote rigging from various opposition forces, saw the NDP win more than 90% of the People's Assembly's 508 contested seats.
Speculation that Mubarak, who celebrated his 47th birthday on Monday, is being groomed by the party to succeed his father have spread across Egypt's political scene since he was nominated by the president to head the policies committee of the NDP in 2002. A coalition formed earlier this year has initiated a campaign to urge him to compete in 2011.
Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981, has yet to reveal whether he will run in the upcoming presidential elections.
Gallbladder removal surgery in Germany in March, followed by his absence from the media in the following weeks, has cast doubts about the 82-year-old's physical ability to remain as president for another term.
In another matter, Gamal Mubarak, when asked why the country's steady economic growth over the last few years has yet to benefit poor Egyptians, said things could be worse; he boasted that the country's financial performance has enabled its economy to survive the global recession.
"If it was not for the firm GDP growth, millions of Egyptian families would have had to weather the storm of the global turmoil on their own," he said. "Instead, people here didn't feel the global increase of some basic commodities because the government was able to subsidize them, and we were able to increase pensions by 25%."
Egypt posted an annual growth rate of more than 7% prior to the global recession. Growth has slowed to between 5.1% and 5.3% over the last two fiscal years.
However, statistics showing economic growth have had little impact on millions of struggling Egyptians, including a fifth of the population that still lives on less than $1 a day.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: Gamal Mubarak. Credit: Agence France-Presse