By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: The changes in leadership at the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) aim at adopting to a new phase through introducing new thoughts and new faces to revitalize the party, Mohamed Abdellah, newly appointed party spokesperson, told Daily News Egypt.
Members of the party’s political bureau, including veteran Safwat Al Sherif, the party’s secretary general, and Gamal Mubarak, head of the policies committee, were removed from their posts on Saturday.
Hossam Badrawy was appointed instead as general secretary and head of the policies committee; Mohamed Ragab as assistant general secretary and head of the steering committee; Mohamed Heiba as head of the youth committee; and Maged Al-Sherbeeny as head of the membership committee.
“The party was shaken but it is still strong. We chose experienced figures that can adapt to the current circumstances and engage with the youth,” Abdellah said.
“We are set to meet and agree on specific policies but right now we are busy coordinating with other political parties on how to overcome the current crisis,” he added.
Prominent NDP figure and head of the foreign affairs committee at the Shoura Council, Mostafa El-Fiqi, resigned from the party on air as he spoke to an Arab news channel.
“I have suffered a lot from the party’s practices while running in the elections and I advise President Mubarak to quit his post as head of the party too,” El-Fiqi said.
“There must be separation between the presidential post and affiliation with the party, given its very low popularity that led to the burning of its headquarters,” he added.
The party’s new leadership was seen by analysts and observers as an attempt to save the party’s image.
“The main strategic objective behind these changes is to attempt to repair the basics upon which the current regime stands and to restore the party’s lost ground amid the popular uprising,” said Nabil Abdel Fattah, expert at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
“They are trying to give an impression that there is an ongoing change in response to demands by the masses by excluding figures who were subject to severe criticism and to regroup the party,” Abdel Fattah added.
He hailed the choice of Badrawy; however, he remained skeptical of his ability to end “corruption” within the party.
“Badrawy is one of the liberal, reformist NDP members who wanted to bring change from inside, and was one of the most reasonable figures in the party who did not simply ignore problems like human rights,” journalist Issandr El-Amrani wrote on Arabist.net
“This is a game of musical chairs to install a new political elite, some of which will be those who survived the old one,” he added.
Magdy Allam, NDP MP, said that the changes were needed. He expected more changes in the party’s smaller organizational units in governorates.
“The NDP after Jan. 25 is a different party that is ready to promote the values of transparency and dialogue within. The new leadership comprises figures that are in contact with youth and are capable of initiating dialogue outside the party,” he said.
“They are set to develop a new speech directed at the youth with a special focus on electronic media, the same tool used to initiate the uprising,” Allam added.
According to Abdel-Fattah, such procedures won’t have much effect on the public who became the source of legitimacy and within a new democratic system would form a party coalition that can overwhelm existing political parties.
According to Allam, the party’s past leadership didn’t communicate with the base that voiced the people’s complaints and conveyed the same demands of the protestors, but instead focused on mega economic policies that mainly served businessmen.
“The relationship between the party’s parliamentary bloc and the government was distorted. We presented more than 700 requests for investigation in the matters of poverty and unemployment but the government took the NDP’s majority for granted and ignored them,” Allam said.