A screen shot from Al-Nahar TV Youtube channel showing Ahmed Ezz during an interview on Tuesday 24 Feb. 2015
In his first appearance on television since his release from jail in August 2014, former leading figure of the now-defunct Mubarak-era National Democratic Party (NDP) Ahmed Ezz on Tuesday defended his role before Egypt's 2011 uprising.
Ezz, whose application to run in Egypt's upcoming parliamentary elections was rejected on Sunday, answered presenter Khaled Salah's questions on the privately-owned Al-Nahar TV channel.
When asked why he thinks people took to the streets in 2011 against ex-president Hosni Mubarak and his regime, Ezz said, "If you think people went out because of Ahmed Ezz then I apologise, I am sorry."
"The reasons are numerous," he said. "The reason is that there was only one regime. It had been present from 1952 [when the army overthrew the Egyptian monarchy in a popular revolution] to 2010. There were no alternatives… and so people's expectations – and they were right – were very high, because they had never seen an alternative."
The steel tycoon, who has been prosecuted in four cases linked to money laundering and corruption since the 2011 uprising, however admitted his involvement in canceling judicial monitoring in Egypt's infamous 2010 parliamentary elections, saying it was "wrong."
"I did not fully know that this could lead to significant problems in the elections," he said, "I thought there could be alternatives to judicial monitoring, [like] university professors, lawyers, retired armed forces officers and so on."
The 2010 parliamentary elections were seen to have been rigged on a large scale. They also witnessed deadly violence, and were seen to be one of the reasons for people's anger soon after during the January 2011 uprising.
Ezz said that he did not create Mubarak's regime, that he worked within it and accepted its rules, adding that he regarded himself as a "reformist" who tried to bring about "gradual" changes.
The High Elections Committee has rejected his application to run in Egypt's 2015 parliamentary elections, but he has filed an appeal with the administrative court.
When asked why he wishes to run again for parliament, hinting at popular fears that figures from Mubarak’s regime are trying to regain political influence in Egypt, Ezz said he was “only running for one seat."
He added that the current "regime is stronger than to be affected by one MP."
The president's son
Ezz also denied that the Mubarak regime had any serious plans for Hosni Mubarak's son, Gamal, to become president, contrary to popular perception, and described the young Mubarak's role during his father's rule as "a president's aide."
"His main goal every day was to protect the president politically, present him with alternatives, help him take right decisions, but I did not see that Gamal had his own agenda," he said.
Mubarak appointed his son Gamal, originally an investment banker, to the General Secretariat of the NDP in 2000, and he quickly rose to power within the party.
Gamal Mubarak headed the party's Policies Secretariat, which played a key role in drafting controversial constitutional amendments that were seen to pave his way to presidency.
After spending more than three years behind bars, Gamal and his brother Alaa were both released from jail in January, pending retrial in the "presidential palaces" case, in which they face charges of embezzling public funds, one of several corruption trials they have faced since the 2011 uprising.