The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has announced a partial list of its candidates for next month's parliamentary elections.
After a ministerial meeting in Alexandria chaired by President Hosni Mubarak, Information Minister Safwat El-Sherif announced that the NDP would field 444 candidates in the country's 222 constituencies. An initial list of around 80 candidates was published earlier this week.
El-Sherif said new faces make up 42 percent of the list compared to 35 percent in the 1995 elections.
The names of about 260 members of the outgoing Assembly are on the list while 180 are dropped. The applications of 2,500 to 3,000 NDP members who wanted to contest the elections were rejected. Many of them are expected to run as independents, defying an NDP threat to expel them from the party.
On the initial list, the NDP is nominating six cabinet ministers, two of them members of the outgoing Assembly. The two veterans are Youssef Wali, deputy prime minister, minister of agriculture and NDP secretary-general, and Kamal El-Shazli, minister for parliamentary affairs and NDP secretary for organizational affairs.
The four cabinet ministers running in the elections for the first time are Youssef Boutros Ghali, minister of economy and foreign trade; Sayed Mash'al, minister for military production; Ibrahim Suleimam, minister of housing and new communities; and Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, minister of irrigation and water.
The initial list also includes three former cabinet ministers who were members of the outgoing Assembly - Maher Abaza, Mohamed Ali Mahgoub and Mahmoud El-Sherif. The list includes nine women, compared to seven in 1995. NDP sources say the final list will include 11 women. Six were members of former parliaments. They are: Amal Osman, running in Doqqi (Giza); Fayda Kamel, Al-Khalifa (southern Cairo); Soraya Labna, Nasr City (eastern Cairo); Galila Awad, Ras Sidr (southern Sinai); Widad Shalabi, Al-Attareen (Alexandria); and Fardoos El-Awdan, running in Kafr Al-Sheikh.
The three new candidates are Mariam Mustafa, running in Bab Sharki (Alexandria); Ragaa Mohamed Gad, Al-Arbieen (Suez governorate); and Awatef Kahk, in Ibshway (Fayoum). Mustafa is a professor of social development at Alexandria University's Faculty of Arts, and Gad is general manager of the National Population Council's office in Suez. Kahk is NDP's secretary-general for women affairs in Fayoum. The new candidates are members of the National Council for Women, headed by Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak.
The list includes two Copts - Minister of Economy Youssef Boutros Ghali and businessman Esmat Nathan, the latter running in the Alexandria district of Ghorbal.
An Egyptian analyst, who asked not to be named, said the inclusion of Copts on the NDP list is a token gesture "to correct past mistakes." He added, "in the 1990 and 1995 elections, the NDP list did not include a single Copt, a source of great disappointment. An NDP source told Al-Ahram Weekly that the party aimed to choose "good candidates" rather than target any particular group. However, he expected the list would have a significant number of Copts.
"The Coptic representation will definitely figure high on the NDP list of candidates to make up for their conspicuous absence in previous elections," Adel Beshai, a member of the NDP political bureau (and a Copt) told the weekly. But Beshai finds the concept of nominating Copts as such problematic. "The problem with choosing Coptic candidates is not making it look like they are chosen because of their religious identity, rather than because they fit very well into their constituencies and enjoy support," Beshai said. For other political parties, nominating Copts has historical roots. The liberal Wafd makes a point of having a significant Coptic representation. In 1995, the Wafd had almost 50 such candidates on its list.
But Al Ahram Weekly says the most controversial names on the NDP list are businessmen. The initial list includes 11 businessmen, seven of them members of former parliaments. They are: Mohamed Abul-Enein (ceramic production) running in Giza; Mamdouh Thabet Mekki (leather production) in Manial Al-Roda (Cairo); Ahmed Khairi (tourism and maritime services) Al-Attarin (Alexandria); Amin Hammad (contracting) Tanta (Al-Gharbiya governorate); Mahmoud Abul-Kheir (tourism) Bishbiesh (Al-Gharbiyya governorate); Abdel-Fattah Diab (import of agricultural machinery) running in Aga (Al-Daqahliya governorate), and Abdel-Rahman Baraka (banking) in Atmida (Al-Daqahliya governorate).
The four businessmen contesting elections as NDP candidates for the first time are: Hossam Badrawi, a major investor in medical services, running in downtown Cairo's Qasr Al-Nil district; Ahmed Ezz, a producer of steel and ceramics, running in Menouf (Al-Menoufiya governorate); Ahmed Arafa, a manufacturer of ready-made garments, running in Nasr City; and a well known Coptic businessman Esmat Nathan, a private contractor, running in Ghorbal. Nathan won party acclaim when he donated money last year to build a mosque in Ghorbal and became a symbol of national unity in Alexandria.
The initial list includes some public figures, including three members of the outgoing Assembly. Fathi Sorour, speaker of the outgoing Assembly, is running in the Cairo district of Sayeda Zeinab. Sorour is expected to be speaker of next parliament, his third time and more than 10 years in the job. Others include Zakaria Azmi, chief of the presidential staff, running in eastern Cairo's Al-Zeitoun district, and Hamdi El-Sayed, chairman of the Doctors' Syndicate, running in eastern Cairo's Heliopolis district.
A new face is Hamdi El-Konayessi, chairman of Egyptian Radio, running in the Al-Gharbiya district of Berma.
In February 1999, Mubarak, acting as NDP chairman, reshuffled the NDP politburo and general secretariat for the first time since 1993. Of particular significance was the promotion of new faces to the NDP politburo. Gamal Mubarak and Prime Minister Atef Ebeid were included in the politburo and 10 cabinet ministers were promoted to high NDP positions.
The number of high-ranking Coptic NDP officials increased from one to six with the inclusion of two Christian cabinet ministers, Youssef Ghali and Environment Minister Nadia Makram Ebeid, along with others, in the new general secretariat. Two leading businessmen, Ahmed Ezz and Ibrahim Kamel, were also included in the general secretariat, reflecting the priority of economic over political liberalization.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )