Analysts: Presidential poster campaigns distract from reform

Some local political analysts fear that the ongoing “war of posters and signature gathering” between would-be presidential candidates–including Gamal Mubarak, assistant secretary-general of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and son of President Hosni Mubarak; Mohamed ElBaradei, former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency; and Ayman Nour, founder of  the opposition Ghad Party–will only serve to distract focus from the need for political reform.

“The war of the posters waged by certain political forces in response to the recently-launched pro-Gamal electoral campaign should limit itself to opposing the unfolding plan for presidential inheritance, which is being implemented as we speak,” former cassation court vice-president Mahmoud el-Khodeiry told Al-Masry Al-Youm. “It should not distract political leaders from working towards guaranteeing the integrity of upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.”

Last week, posters appeared throughout Cairo in support of a presidential bid by Gamal Mubarak. In response, the Ghad Party has launched its own poster campaign in opposition to a possible presidential run by the younger Mubarak. Both campaigns were launched in the shadow of a months-long initiative by ElBaradei supporters to collect one million signatures in support of ElBaradei’s call for constitutional change.

Hassan Nafea, coordinator of ElBaradei’s National Association for Change, called on Gamal Mubarak to simply nominate himself through the NDP’s supreme council and not through informal poster campaigns.

“These kinds of campaigns are funded by businessmen and state institutions,” said Nafea. “Opposition parties should step up their efforts to counter such campaigns in order to guarantee impartial elections.”

Amr el-Shobaki, political analyst at the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, described the pro-Gamal signature-collecting campaign as “neither convincing nor influential.” It appeared, he added, to be a reaction to ElBaradei’s campaign.

“ElBaradei’s signature campaign is manifested by a genuine desire for change and reform,” said el-Shobaki. “This has terrified Gamal Mubarak supporters.”

Regarding the Ghad Party’s anti-Gamal campaign, el-Shobaki said that supporters of both Nour and Gamal Mubarak were “envious” of the ability of ElBaradei supporters to mobilize the public behind their candidate.

According to Waheed Abdel Maguid, director of the Al-Ahram Center for Translation and Publishing, “haphazard movements” by supporters of both Gamal Mubarak and ElBaradei “only serve to confirm the ambiguity of Egypt’s future, especially in terms of who the next president will be.”

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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