Return of the NDP: Mubarak-regime diehards retrench ahead of Egypt's elections
The diehards of ousted president Mubarak’s defunct NDP regroup into new parties
Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 18 Sep 2011
If parliamentary elections are to be held mid-November, the diehards of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s long ruling, but now defunct National Democratic Party (NDP) promise to be a major force. Not only has a large number of them joined several of the newly-formed political parties, but many also seek to form a strong alliance in a face-off with Islamists and other political forces in upcoming elections.
The Egyptian Citizen Party is the most prominent among a host of NDP-remnant political parties. It is lead by Mohamed Ragab, the NDP’s former secretary-general. The party’s politburo also includes several former high-profile NDP figures, such as Hamdi El-Sayed, chairman of the doctors’ syndicate and Abdel-Ahad Gamaleddin, NDP former majority spokesman in the People’s Assembly (Parliament) and Nabil Louka Bibawi, a businessman and NDP’s former media spokesman.
Ragab told Ahram Online that Egyptian Citizen has an estimated 6,000 members. “They are mostly concentrated in Cairo and Alexandria,” said Ragab, indicating “the party will be nominating candidates with strong tribal and familial connections in most of Egypt’s 27 governorates, proving a high level of competition in next elections.”
Second on the list of NDP’s political parties is Misr El-Nahda (Renaissance Egypt), was formed by Hossam Badrawi, a businessman and NDP’s former secretary-general. Badrawi, who was very close to Mubarak’s younger son who was being pruned for presidency, Gamal, said “his party includes more than six thousand members; most of them are young people who believe in the ideals of the January 25 Revolution.”
Badrawi admits that most, if not all, of his party’s members hail from the defunct NDP. “Not all of NDP’s members were corrupt people,” defends Badrawi, indicating that most of NDP’s young members motivated him to form his party to be “a voice for liberalism and modernisation.”
The Horreya (Freedom) Party, led by businessman Mamdouh Ali Hassan, is another big NDP force. The party includes more than eight thousand members; most of them are old long-time NDP members from Upper Egypt. Hassan is the son of Mohamed Mahmoud, a former NDP parliamentary spokesman and a construction magnate.
Hassan considers his Horreya party a big liberal force, espousing the freedom and democratic ideals of the January 25 Revolution. “We are opposed to a religious state or that Islamist forces (mixing religion with politics) dominate political life in Egypt,” said Hassan. He also explained that many of NDP’s old MPs joined the Horreya party, with 12 from Cairo alone.
“We prepared a preliminary list of 106 candidates who will stand in next parliamentary elections, and we hope this figure will rise up to more than five hundred,” said Hassan.
The family of late president Anwar El-Sadat, the man who laid the foundations of the NDP in 1978, has also rallied behind another NDP-remnant political party called The Nationalist Egypt Party. It was founded by Sadat’s nephew, Talaat, who was appointed chairman of the NDP before it was dissolved on 16 April. The new party includes many veteran NDP deputies from the Nile-Delta governorates and Alexandria. Talaat said “they are a great addition because these deputies have a good reputation and they really believe in liberal and democratic ideals.”
Sadat strongly stands against “those who ask for stripping old NDP members and deputies of their right to participate in political life... I think that all those who have strong fears that Islamists could dominate political life and turn the country into a religious state should encourage all liberal forces, including old NDP deputies, to run in the next parliamentary elections,” emphasised Talaat.
Yomna El-Hamaki, a long-standing high-profile female member of NDP’s secretariat-general and of the Shura Council (Upper House), also was able to form The Egypt Development Party. El-Hamaki, an economist at Cairo University, believes that “it is complete injustice to consider all of NDP’s deputies as corrupt and opportunistic... Several of these deputies made use of their long membership in the People’s Assembly and Shura Council to advocate the ideals of democracy and freedom, not to mention calling for economic modernity and innovation.”
The Modern Egypt Party, founded by businessman Nabil Deibis, is another political gathering of NDP’s businessmen. Deibis said his party believes in market-economy and liberal democratic ideals.
Other newly-formed political parties, such as the Conservative Party led by NDP businessman Akmal Qortam, and the Bidaya (The Beginning) Party, also include NDP diehards.
El-Horreya’s Hassan told Ahram Online “negotiations among most of the above parties are underway to form a large alliance, aiming to compete strongly in the upcoming parliamentary elections...This is necessary to defeat Islamist forces and ensure that all movements from across Egypt’s political life are represented in the next parliament.”
The youth movements of the January 25 Revolution, however, have blacklisted the above NDP-remnant parties, urging Egypt’s ruling military to initiate a judicial process to ban leading members and MPs of the ex-ruling party from participation in political life for a specified period of time, no less than five years.
“It is simply our duty to blacklist these parties and inform voters of the dangers of electing them,” said the influential and long-standing 6th of April Movement.
They argue that these NDP-remnant parties "are as dangerous as Islamist forces and must be prevented from participating in political life again,” emphasised the 6th of April Movement.