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Egypten - Præsidentvalg, november 2005
EGYPT: Focus on election campaigning
IRINnews.org, 18. august 2005
Valgkampen op til præsidentvalget blev indledt onsdag (17. august) med store taler af de tre kandidater, der formodes at trække langt de fleste stemmer ved valget. Disse tre kandidater er den siddende præsident Hosni Mubarak samt hans to hovedudfordrere Ayman Nour fra Ghad-Partiet og Nomaan Gomaa fra Wafd-Partiet. Derudover forventes yderligere syv ledere fra mindre oppositionspartier at stille op, uden at de formodes at få mere end en ganske ringe del af stemmerne.
CAIRO, 18 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Egypt’s presidential campaign kicked off on Wednesday with dramatic speeches by the two main candidates outlining not dissimilar programmes to reform the country.
The country’s first ever multi-candidate presidential campaign will run for three weeks until election day on 7 September and features the president as well as nine other candidates from opposition parties.
Apart from President Hosni Mubarak, only Ayman Nour of the Ghad Party and Nomaan Gomaa of the Wafd Party, are expected to garner substantial amounts of votes.
Mubarak kicked off his campaign at the newly built Azhar Park gardens and featuring a speech filled with campaign promises and with a heavy emphasis on humanitarian issues.
“This will be a frank dialogue about the hard work needed to serve Egypt and its people,” he said to several thousand supporters wearing white Mubarak t-shirts and baseball caps. “I will talk to you about our concerns, our problems, our common aspirations.”
He talked about his achievements over the past 24 years, including building roads, hospitals and schools, as well as ensuring political and economic security. Yet he admitted that much remains to be done.
“There are still youth looking for job opportunities, and low income families suffering from inflation. We must care for our poor and our sick, burdened by the high cost of treatment and medications,” he said. “We still need to improve the quality of education and the quality of health services and insurance. We need more road, water, and sewage networks.”
He also promised further democratic opening, including constitutional amendments and new laws that would strengthen parliament’s oversight ability on the executive branch as well as increase opportunities for opposition parties in the political process.
He went on to say that measures would be taken to guarantee a certain number of seats in the parliament for women.
In the human rights arena, Mubarak reiterated his promise to repeal the emergency law which has governed the country for his entire reign and replace it with a new anti-terrorism law.
The speech also outlined a series of projects the government would embark on over the next six years to create 4 million more jobs through micro-credit programs, industrial development and investment in tourism and agriculture. He then pledged to double the salaries of civil servants over the next six years.
The crowd often interrupted Mubarak with cheers and chanted slogans in support, including “not enough, not enough, we are with you until the end” – a direct reference to the Kifaya (Enough) movement opposing another term for the president.
The speech was followed by a video detailing the highlights of Mubarak’s rule and interviews with him and his wife talking about how they met and their earlier years together.
“It is to show his human side,” Muhammad Kamal, one of the campaign coordinators, said.
Meanwhile, all over Cairo huge billboards showing the president in the crisp white shirt and power tie of a business man with the slogan “leadership… crossing to the future” have been set up.
For a change, though, the capital is also witness to a few billboards portraying opposition leader Ayman Nour of the Ghad Party.
He held his own rally in Cairo's downtown’s Attaba square. Riding in a open horse-drawn carriage, Nour and hundreds of his supporters waving their signature orange banners marched through the city to his campaign headquarters in the low income neighbourhood of Bab el-Shaeriya.
The site of the speech itself could not have been in greater contrast to the airy setting of Mubarak’s garden speech, with its gentle evening breezes, numerous fans and high tech video screens.
In the hot and cramped confines of Nour’s charitable foundation, several hundred people sweated together and strained to hear Nour’s speech, which initially suffered from a malfunctioning sound system.
Nour’s programme called for his election to a two-year interim period during which a new constitution creating a freer political system will be drafted. He also called for the elimination of the emergency law, freedom to create political parties and independence for the judiciary.
He listed a number of measures to aid low income Egyptians and strengthen the economy.
Analysts in the past have noted that many of the measures called for by Nour and other members of the opposition, such as abolishing emergency law, have been picked up by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) in its campaign to re-elect Mubarak.
Wednesday also witnessed the opening of the election campaign of the Wafd, the modern incarnation of the political party that dominated Egypt’s politics in the first half of the century and before the 1952 military coup that established the current system. In recent years, though, it has seen its support dwindle.
In contrast to the other candidates, Wafd leader Gomaa declined to show up at his own press conference and party officials subsequently said that they would concentrate on television and newspaper advertisements to deliver their message.
On Thursday, most of the nation’s newspaper carried Gomaa’s campaign advert showing pictures of frustrated citizens under the statement, “we are suffocating.” The campaign’s slogan is “be with me people and let us genuinely change Egypt.”
The seven other candidates, all heads of small political parties that have little in the way of organisation or popular support, have yet to issue concrete platforms of their own.
For the most part, the political impact of these candidates, who have never had a serious role role in public life before now, are being dismissed.
The ensuing weeks of campaigning will be novel ones for Egypt, especially since the president has promised that opposition candidates will be given equal access to the largely state-dominated media.
On Tuesday, a new organisation called Shayfeen.com (literally “we see you”) pledged to observe the elections and monitor the media to ensure that it provides fair and equal coverage of the candidates.
Already there have been charges by members of the opposition that the state-owned press is favoring the incumbent. News of the president traditionally dominates Egypt’s state-owned press.
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