One of the major demands of demonstrators organising a sit-in at Cairo’s Tahrir Square is the government, state bodies, political life and the media must be cleansed of the diehards from ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).
In a statement issued after a meeting with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf on 10 July, representatives of the protesters said that not only are senior officials from Mubarak’s regime still occupying leading government positions, his ruling NDP’s old guard members were able to infiltrate a number of newly-established political parties.
The statement said that “veteran parliamentary deputies of Mubarak’s NDP should be banned from running in parliamentary elections for at least ten years, while senior officials from NDP’s executive bureau should be banned from political activity for their life-times, because of their primary roles in corrupting [the nation's] political and parliamentary life.”
The statement also pointed accusing fingers at some state-owned and private newspapers and television channels, charging that these media bodies are manipulated by NDP business tycoons and NDP old guard media moguls.
Sharaf, meanwhile, has promised to excute a major reshuffle of his cabinet within one week, in line with the demands of the revolutionary forces. It has been reported that 11 cabinet posts are to change hands.
Topping the list of NDP cabinet members are Fayza Abul-Naga, minister of international cooperation and planning; Fathi El-Baradie, minister of housing and new communities; and Zahi Hawass, minister of state for antiquities.
Abul-Naga was at the top of NDP’s list of women candidates in last year’s parliamentary elections. She won one of the two Port Said governorate’s seats reserved for women. This is in spite of the fact that she had never occupied a top ranking postion in the former ruling party.
By contrast, El-Baradie was a veteran member of the NDP. He was the NDP candidate in the parliamentary elections of 1995 and 2000. He was also elected as NDP member of the upper consultative house, the Shura Council, in 2003. El-Baradie was appointed governor of the Nile-Delta governorate of Damietta in 2004.
El-Baradei’s son, Mohamed, was a member of NDP’s Policies Committee, which was led by Mubarak’s son and heir apparent Gamal. He was fielded as an NDP candidate in the 2010 parliamentary elections in the Gharbiya governorate.
As for Hawass, he was widely believed to be strongly connected with Mubarak’s wife Suzanne. Hawass and former culture minister Farouk Hosni have been accused of being Suzanne Mubarak's men, at the expense of the national interest.
Representatives of the Tahrir Square demonstrators also believe that NDP’s diehards still impose hegemony on most of Egypt’s universities and the General Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions (GEFTU).
Chairman of GEFTU, Hussein Megawer, was referred to criminal trial on charges of inciting thugs to attack pro-democracy protesters at Tahrir Square during the January 25 Revolution.
On the other hand, it was revealed that several old deputies of the NDP were able to infiltrate newly-established political parties.
On top of these is the Freedom Party which was founded by Moataz Ali Hassan, the son of a former leading NDP MP and a construction magnate. The Freedom Party includes tens of old NDP deputies from several upper Egypt governorates.
These deputies enjoy old tribal and familial connections and are ready to clinch a number of seats in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
NDP’s former secretary-general Mohamed Ragab also is in the process of establishing a party by the name of “The Egyptian Citizen.” Ragab said his party will include a number of former Shura Council and People’s Assembly NDP deputies from Cairo and other governorates.
A third party by the name of “The Egyptian National Party”, established by Talaat El-Sadat, nephew of late president Anwar El-Sadat, will also include a number of old NDP MPs in the Nile-Delta governorates, especially Al-Menoufiya – the birthplace of the Sadat and Mubarak families.
El-Sadat, who was appointed chairman of the NDP before it was dissolved, said: “it is wrong to impose a ban on NDP leaders and deputies exercising political rights and activities...They were not involved in any corruption and it is complete injustice to deny them the right to engage in political activities.”
The number of former NDP members who joined El-Sadat’s party are estimated at 100.
In media terms, political activists also believe that several former NDP veterans still control many satellite television channels and state-owned newspapers.
During their “Revolution First” Friday demonstration at Tahrir Square on 8 July, demonstrators raised placards of several editors-in-chief of state-owned newspapers, insisting that these should be fired from their positions.
These included Yasser Rizq, editor of the daily Al-Akhbar; Hamdy Rizk, editor of the weekly Al-Mussawar; and Galal Dewidar, chairman of the National Press Council.
Political activists also prevented the staff of a new satellite channel, CBC, from broadcasting live the Friday demonstration and sit-in, accusing its presenters of being old NDP faces who mostly accrued large wealth during the Mubarak era.
On top of these is Lamis El-Hadidi, a woman journalist who was helped by former information minister Anas El-Fiki to present a talk show on the state-owned Nile channels.
Another satellite channel, Al-Mehwar (The Axis), is also accused by political activists of promoting the agenda of the NDP.
Al-Mehwar is owned by Hassan Rateb, a business tycoon who was closely connected with the Mubarak regime. The channel used to broadcast live the annual conferences of the NDP.
There are strong reports that prime minister Sharaf will cleanse the press of all NDP-supporting editors.
Sharaf also appointed Osama Heikal, a journalist with the opposition Wafd party, as the new minister of information, tasked primarily with restructuring the state-owned Radio and Television Union and ridding it of the remnants of NDP loyalists.