NDP fires Mubarak - then what?

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 28 Feb 2011

As part of the former ruling party's strategy to cut its links with its notorious heritage, it has removed Hosni Mubarak from his post as chairman while other corrupt former officials wriggle on the hook of justice

NDP fires Mubarak - then what?
NDP fires Mubarak - then what?

Some days ago, the governor of Cairo Abdel-Azim Wazir announced that the headquarters of the formerly ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) that was torched by protesters on 28 January would be turned into a public garden. Wazir said the NDP's main building office was damaged beyond repair. In the words of Wazir, “it is better to turn the place into a public garden for Cairo's residents rather than rebuild a party which has become beyond repair.”

Wazir's decision was the last to add to the troubles of the NDP whose leaders and senior officials are now either in jail pending trial on corruption and profiteering charges or have fled the country immediately following the breakout of the January 25 revolution.

In spite of all this, some NDP members still believe that the party can be re-born again from the ashes of corruption, trials and fires. On 27 February, or 16 days after the resignation of Hosni Mubarak as president of Egypt, a number of NDP's officials met to discuss selecting a new chairman for the party instead of Mubarak. Mohamed Ragab, the newly-appointed secretary-general of the NDP, said Mubarak's resignation from office as president of Egypt means that he no longer heads the party. Ragab also explained that the NDP's former senior officials such as Safwat El-Sherif, Gamal Mubarak, Fathi Sorour, Moufid Shehab, Alieddin Hilal and Zakaria Azmi are no longer members of the NDP.

“The NDP’s new leadership is against having corrupt politicians within its ranks like El-Sherif and Gamal Mubarak,” Ragab said.

He went on to reveal that the party has severed links with Ahmed Ezz, its former secretary for organisational affairs; Ahmed El-Maghrabi, the former housing minister and Mohamed Abdul-Enein, a member of NDP's secretariat-general. “All of these are implicated in corruption charges,” said Ragab, arguing that “if we want the NDP to stay alive, it should get rid of such a kind of corruption officials.”

Ragab, however, indicated that the governor of Cairo, Abdel-Azim Wazir, is not empowered to turn the NDP's headquarters into a public garden. “NDP's headquarters is the property of the Shura Council (Upper House) and not the governorate of Cairo and it is Shura Council which is exclusively authorised to have a final say on the party's buildings and assets,” he argued.

Ragab indicated that the NDP plans to contest the upcoming parliamentary elections. “Of course,” he said, “we will not be able to field candidates in all districts because many members resigned in the last two weeks.” Ragab added that the NDP's ideology now supports the ideals espoused by the January 25 revolution.

Political circles, however, are now rife with talk of the different scenarios for the fate of the NDP and its former senior officials. Many believe that the ousted president Hosni Mubarak is in Sharm El-Sheikh planning a counter-coup. Ragab told Ahram Online that it is still difficult for many of his members to believe that Mubarak is no longer chairman of the party. “Many of them even believe that he is arranging an anti-25 January coup and that he will be back to hold the reins of power again,” said Ragab. But sooner or later, argued Ragab, everyone will realize that Mubarak is a thing of the past and those who truly believe in the party should do their best to keep it alive.

Today, Egypt’s prosecutor-general announced he was ordering the freeze of all Mubarak family assets held in Egyptian banks and banning them from leaving the country.

Mubarak's right hand man and former chief of his presidential staff, Zakaria Azmi, is widely believed to be under house arrest. Azmi, the former NDP's secretary for financial and administrative affairs, left with Mubarak for Sharm El-Sheikh on 11 February. The prosecutor-general decided on 26 February to open an investigation into the wealth and financial assets of Azmi. On 27 February, Azmi's 70-feddan farm in Aswan was attacked by several people. The farm grows grape vines whose produce is exported to France and other European countries for making wine.

Safwat El-Sherif, the NDP’s former secretary-general and chairman of the Shura Council, is also under house arrest. El-Sherif’s wealth and financial assets are under investigation by the Illicit Gains Office, affiliated with the ministry of justice. El-Sherif is widely believed to be staying in his house in Heliopolis. Various reports have emerged detailing how El-Sherif helped his son Ashraf acquire large plots of land on the Mediterranean coast and on Cairo-Alexandria desert road.

Fathi Sorour, the longest-serving speaker of parliament (1990 to 2011), has so far proved immune to corruption charges. Sorour, however, faces accusations of political corruption and peddling influence to serve the despotic interests of Mubarak’s regime. Sorour, a member of the NDP’s political politburo under Mubarak, owns several mansions in East Cairo’s affluent district of Qatamiya Heights and in the Marina resort west of Alexandria.

Speaking on his plans for the future, Sorour, said he intends to go back to his old job as a lawyer. Members of the board of the syndicate of lawyers, however, oppose Sorour’s return to their fold, emphasizing that he was a major player in the inner circle of corrupt officials around Mubarak. A member of the board described Sorour as a corrupt senior politician who had been a major tool whom Mubarak used to stifle political life and serve his despotic plans, especially amending the constitution in 2007 to help his son Gamal inherit power.

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