CAIRO: The National Democratic Party (NDP) candidate for the 2011 presidential race will not be announced until June or July of next year, according to Shoura Council Speaker and Secretary General of the ruling party Safwat El-Sherif.
In an interview with the Russian “Rusya El-Youm” TV channel Wednesday, El-Sherif dismissed a succession scenario, maintaining that the Egyptian constitution stipulates specific procedure for the transfer of power.
President Hosni Mubarak, who is approaching the end of his fifth term, has not announced whether or not he will run for presidency in 2011.
However, in an interview with Al Arabiya news channel Tuesday, El-Sherif said that members of the NDP wish to nominate Mubarak for a sixth term.
“He [Mubarak] is a legend that cannot be replaced,” he told the Dubai-based network, reiterating comments by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif earlier this week.
“I think that the president hasn’t yet decided whether or not he wants to run. The final decision is not left for the party as a whole, but for the president himself,” political expert at Al-Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies Amr El-Choubeki told Daily News Egypt.
“In any democratic system, presidential candidates are announced within the party first to allow for competition, and then the winning candidate who will stand for the elections is announced to the public.
“Unfortunately, the ruling party does not practice internal democracy,” added El-Choubeki.
Since taking power in 1981, Mubarak never appointed a vice president, triggering speculation about his successor.
Many believe he is grooming his son Gamal, who currently heads the party’s Policy Committee, to succeed him in power.
On “Russia Today,” El-Sherif warned those who believe Egypt is on the brink of chaos.
“I’m telling those who predict chaos not to live in an illusion that they have created themselves. Egypt is a safe and stable country. Do not misinterpret freedom of expression. Egypt is a strong country that respects the law, and whoever breaches is it will be tried.
“There is no reason for chaos. The nation’s interest is a red line that cannot be crossed.”
In response to calls for political reform, El-Sherif said that the constitutional amendments of 2005 and 2007 were “unprecedented in Egypt’s history and that they were drafted to preserve the position of the head of state from foreign intervention,” according to state news portal egynews.net.
He also called on those demanding reform to join the political arena in accordance with the constitution.
Currently, the constitution stipulates that any viable candidate for presidency must be a member in a party that has existed for five years and be a member of its supreme committee for at least one year.
Independent candidates must secure 250 signatures from both parliament houses, a requirement many deem impossible since the NDP constitutes the majority in both houses.
“This is not a normal procedure. Whether or not people vote for Mubarak if he runs, the final decision will have been precooked by higher members in the NDP and national security,” said El-Choubeki.
On the Shoura Council elections which are currently underway, El-Sherif said that the NDP’s intention is not to cling to power by winning a sweeping majority but rather to gain people’s trust and preserve national stability.
Meanwhile, El-Sherif said that government must foresee workers’ problems and outline solutions before tension arises, maintaining that in accordance with the constitution every citizen is entitled to freedom of expression.
Earlier this week, violence erupted when security bodies forced protesters to end their sit-ins outside parliament. In recent months, workers have taken to the streets on weekly basis, many bunking in front of parliament in downtown Cairo protesting low wages and poor working conditions.