Profile: Egypt's first civilian VP Mahmoud Mekki

Ahram Online , Thursday 16 Aug 2012

Judge Mahmoud Mekki, who was active in judicial reform movements under Mubarak, is Egypt's first civilian vice president

Mahmoud Mekki
Mahmoud Mekki at the swearing-in ceremony with President Mohamed Morsi, Sunday evening (Photo: Reuters)

As part of a number of sweeping reshuffles and appointments made within the government and armed forces on Sunday, a new vice president, Mahmoud Mekki, was appointed.

He stands as the country's first civilian to serve as vice president since the 1952 revolution.

A reformist judge, Mekki is most well-known for fighting for judicial reforms against former president Hosni Mubarak's regime, as part of the Egyptian pro-democracy movement which reached its peak in 2005 and 2006. Mekki, alongside his colleagues, also opposed the rigging of the 2005 parliamentary elections, which were widely held to be fraudulent.

Mekki, however, started his career in the police force, graduating from the Police Academy and serving as a Central Security Forces officer. Later on, he earned a bachelor's degree in law and eventually became head of Egypt's Court of Cassation.

His brother, Judge Ahmed Mekki, also holds a post in President Mohamed Morsi's government, following his appointment as minister of justice on 2 August.

One of Mahmoud Mekki's most notable activities was his position leading one of the main control rooms of Egypt's Judges Club (a professional association of members of the judiciary), where he recorded the violations and vote-rigging that took place in favour of the then-ruling National Democratic Party. Along with veteran judge and former presidential candidate in the 2012 elections, Hisham El-Bastawisi, he compiled a list of all the judges that were involved in the vote-rigging.

As a result, Mekki and Bastawisi both faced a disciplinary trial by the public prosecutor, following complaints filed against them by a number judges allied to the Mubarak regime.

Following a couple of years spent in Kuwait after their run-in with the law, Mekki was suggested as a possible candidate to be fielded by the Muslim Brotherhood in the 2012 presidential elections. The nomination, however, was given to Brotherhood leader Khairat El-Shater, and then Mohamed Morsi, following El-Shater's disqualification from the presidential race.

The Mekkis are considered to be affiliated with the Brotherhood due to their Islamist leanings, although they are not official members of the organisation.

Mahmoud Mekki's involvement in the movement for an independent judiciary goes as far back as 1980, when he was member of a group within the Judges' Club calling for the independence of the judiciary.

In 1992, Mekki and Bastawisi led a strike to demand the release of two judges who were arrested arbitrarily. As a result, after almost three weeks of detention, the two judges were released and were granted fair investigations.

Past figures who have held the post of the country's second-in-command — all hailing from a military background — include Sabri El-Assal, Akram El-Hourani, Abdel Latif Boghdady, Abdel Hakim Amer, Nour El-Din Kahalla, Abdel-Hameed El-Sarag, Kamal El-Din Hussein, Zakarya Moheidin, Hussein El-Shafei, Anwar El-Sadat, Ali Sabri, who served under Gamal Abdel Nasser from 1958 to 1969.

In 1975, Anwar El-Sadat took up the post as vice president to Nasser from 1969 to 1970, before taking the post of president himself after Nasser's death. Hosni Mubarak also took up the post from 1975 to 1981.

Under Mubarak however, the post was left empty for 30 years, until the late Omar Suleiman was appointed in the wake of the 25 January uprising, as part of a number of changes instilled in an attempt to appease protesters.

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