File Photo: Ahmed Ezz in the Egyptian parliament before 2011 revolution (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Steel tycoon and one-time mover and shaker under former autocrat Hosni Mubarak announced in a statement that he would run for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Ahmed Ezz, who was recently freed from jail over corruption charges, served as the national organiser of Mubarak’s now-dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP).
Ezz acted as the spokesperson for the NDP in the parliament between 2005 and 2010.
The 56-year-old Ezz is widely believed to have engineered widespread fraud during the 2010 parliamentary elections, securing an unprecedented majority for his party in the chamber.
Shortly after Mubarak was toppled in early 2011, Ezz was arrested on corruption charges in two separate cases. He spent three years in prison, while on trial, before being released on bail in August.
He has been acquitted in one case, and is currently being retried after initially being found guilty of monopolistic practices in the steel industry.
In a Saturday statement, Ezz said he would run for the elections for four reasons. He cited them as being the need for economic development, and promises to his constituency in Menoufiya’s Al-Sadat district a “major developmental revival.”
He said that he is not running for the parliament to create new divisions, adding that he doesn't have the political or economic clout to create such divisions. He said that the “battles of the past” have ended now that the people have united behind their national institutions.
Ezz’s lawyer submitted his client's papers on Sunday as the registration for parliamentary elections began.
Ezz is the chairman of Ezz Steel and has a 55 percent stake in EZDK, the largest steel complex in the Middle East. It was previously known as Alexandria National Iron and Steel Company (ANISC) before Ezz, then a mid-rank steel manufacturer, was called in to bail out the struggling publicly-owned company in 1999.
Ezz enjoyed a close relationship with Gamal Mubarak, the former president's son, who was reportedly being groomed to succeed his father as president.
Egypt is set to hold parliamentary elections in two phases starting on 22-23 March, with the second phase concluding late in April.
Several political parties have voiced criticism of the parliamentary election laws charging that they set the ground for the domination of wealthy powerful individual candidates over party lists.
Many old regime figures appear to be preparing to make a comeback by running in the poll as courthouses nationwide have opened their doors for the submission of applications.
Hany Sorour, another business mogul and a former NDP parliamentarian who was found guilty of corruption charges under Mubarak, submitted his papers Sunday at a north Cairo court.
A high turnout was seen at courts in Cairo and the Nile Delta governorates as scores of applicants scrambled to apply for the first day of candidacy that will conclude in ten days.
Egypt casts the vote in the crucial last leg in a roadmap to democracy announced after the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his rule.
Several opposition parties have announced they would boycott the poll in protest at the prevailing political climate and legislations regulating the elections.
These include Strong Egypt -- led by moderate Islamist ex- presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, the Popular Current, a movement led by another ex-presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi; and the liberal Dostour -- founded by former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei.