Decision to postpone NDP conference elicits controversy

National Democratic Party (NDP) Secretary-General Safwat al-Sherif on Sunday said President Hosni Mubarak ordered the postponement of the party’s annual conference until 25 December to provide party candidates ample time to prepare for re-election bids in the impending parliamentary poll.

Mubarak recently set the poll date for 28 November.

“According to party regulations, the congress may be held anytime during the last quarter of each year,” al-Sherif said.

The NDP is fielding qualified and popular candidates in all governorates for November's election, al-Sherif added.

“We are looking forward to a large turnout so as to arrive at truly democratic results,” he said.

Al-Sherif also assured the public the party will abide by all rules set by the High Elections Committee.

Opposition leaders alleged the party is postponing the conference–originally slated for 9 November–because of expectations that candidates who were declined nominations by the executive board would voice their grievances during the televised event, effectively jeopardizing the party’s image.

“The decision has political dimensions,” said Wafd Party spokesman Mostafa Shordy. “The party has allegedly excluded some 5000 candidates form its list.”

Opposition figure also said the postponement aims to avert exposing the internal discord within the NDP over Mubarak's potential bid for a sixth term in next year’s presidential election.

“There are those within the NDP who want President Mubarak to run, those who want his son Gamal, and those who want completely new faces,” said Tagammu Party spokesman Nabil Zaki.

National Association for Change coordinator Abdel Gelil Mostafa said the party anticipates problems in the parliamentary poll. “That’s why its leadership decided to postpone the congress,” he said.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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