Islamic group to fight hereditary rule in Egypt

Egypt’s largest Islamic group has criticised the possibility that President Hosni Mubarak may one day hand power to his son, saying on Wednesday it will “fight” any bid to enshrine hereditary rule into this country’s laws.

The fiery comments by Muslim Brotherhood supreme leader Mohammed Mahdi Akef came during a special Ramadan fast-breaking meal in Cairo used to launch the banned movement’s campaign for next month’s vital parliamentary elections.

Opposition groups have been critical of a constitutional amendment this year that paved the way for this country’s first-ever presidential elections held in September, which 77-year-old Mubarak—president since 1981—won comfortably.

The amendment placed tough restrictions on candidates aspiring for Egypt’s top job, such as requiring political parties to have at least 5% representation in Parliament to be eligible to put forward a presidential candidate.

Many political activists believe the restrictions are aimed at paving the way for Mubarak’s son, Gamal, to succeed him eventually. The president has said succession is not an option, while Gamal said last month that standing as a presidential candidate was “hypothetical”, adding he would not contest the parliamentary elections.

“We categorically reject inheritance of rule in any form,” Akef told about 1 600 people gathered at a five-star hotel. “We believe the constitutional amendment ...
aims to enshrine inheritance, but God willing this won’t happen and we will fight it relentlessly.”

As onlookers feasted on Arab desserts and dates, Akef railed against the constitutional amendment that placed tough conditions on presidential candidates running in elections.

“Legalising oppression is the most horrendous type of oppression,” he said.

The parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held over three stages starting on November 9, are expected to witness a fierce battle between Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party and opposition groups, whose success will determine their eligibility to field candidates in the next presidential vote.

The Muslim Brotherhood plans to field 150 candidates, including women, in the polls and has joined forces with nine other political parties and groups in an opposition front announced over the weekend to confront Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party, which dominates Parliament.

While the Muslim Brotherhood’s election banner—“Islam is the solution”—has been opposed by some of its secular allies, it has still agreed to coordinate with other parties to convince people to turn out to vote.

The Muslim Brotherhood holds 15 seats in the outgoing Parliament, but those members are technically independents because of the ban issued against the movement in 1954.

Formed in 1928, it is the loudest and believed to be Egypt’s largest Islamist opposition group. It is highly organised and remains a key player in Egyptian politics despite the ban and vilification in the state-run media.—Sapa-AP

Associated Press writer Salah Nasrawi contributed to this report

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