Two recent events have presented challenges for the Egyptian regime's plan to transfer power to Gamal Mubarak: Mohamed ElBaradei's campaign for political reform and the deteriorating health of President Hosni Mubarak. Both developments explain the apparent state of confusion on the current political scene.
As a result, a group within the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has decided to emulate the petition campaign of the National Association for Change–the reformist group founded by ElBaradei–and have taken to the streets to gather signatures in support of Gamal Mubarak for the presidency. Meanwhile, the party's media secretary, Ali Eddin Helal, has described the nomination of any party member other than President Mubarak as "indecent".
To some, these contradictory actions reflect an ostensible state of disarray which they explain–falsely, in my opinion–is symptomatic of a rift within the NDP over succession. To be sure, there is no disagreement within the ruling party over the plan to transfer power to Gamal Mubarak. There is only some discord about the most appropriate moment to move forward with the scheme.
Concerns over the president's health have driven some NDP members to call for Gamal's nomination in next year's presidential election. Yet others believe it's still too early to announce a candidate and, when prodded on the matter, keep reiterating that the NDP stands firmly behind Mubarak unless the 82-year-old president chooses to withdraw from the race for his own personal reasons.
Contrary to what some may think, Mubarak is in fact the one pulling the strings in this absurdist political drama. And since nobody knows exactly what he's thinking, it's difficult to predict how the final scene will turn out.
If Mubarak was ever flatly against handing power to his son, he would not have allowed Gamal to enter politics in the first place and would have instead encouraged him to take on advisory or executive functions. But Mubarak most probably thought his son should try his luck and be given a shot at the presidency.
Now some members of the regime are so naive as to believe their signature-gathering campaign will convince Egyptians that a Gamal nomination is backed by supportive crowds and represents popular opinion.
The fate of an entire nation should not be held captive to such experiments. I urge the president to declare that his son will not run in the next presidential race, because if things continue as they are we may be in for a major catastrophe.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.