NDP media secretary: Mubarak discreet on presidential candidacy

Ali Eddin Helal, the media secretary for the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), has said that President Mubarak is remaining discreet about whether or not he will be nominated in next year’s presidential election.

In an interview with BBC Arabic’s Dalia el-Sheikh, Helal said that Egypt has never seen a candidate announce his intention to run for presidency this early. “He is discreet, but in a way that preserves his country’s interests”, Helal said of Mubarak.

Helal dismissed claims that the party is grooming the president’s son, Gamal, to run for the NDP should the president give up his candidacy, adding that the norm is for the NDP is to hold internal elections first. Helal said that while there are many qualified candidates within the party, nobody would compete with Mubarak, should he be nominated, out of respect for his history.

Helal also defended the recently approved emergency law, stressing that the government’s decision to limit its application to drugs and terrorism is a legal commitment. He commented on the US’s disapproval of the renewed law, saying that even America has exceptional laws by which it protects its national security.

Asked about popular demands to amend Article 76 of the constitution, which many view as an impediment to free and fair presidential elections, Helal said that those eager to nominate a candidate should join existing political parties that match their views.

Helal rejected the idea of a parliamentary quota for Copts, saying that a Christian should run for election just as his or her Muslim counterpart.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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