Mubarak Throws Presidential Race Wide Open
President Hosni Mubarak stunned the nation late last month with an announcement that he was throwing the race for the presidency wide open.
“This morning, I asked the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council to amend article 76 of the Constitution,” the president told an audience at Munufiya University on February 26th.
“The election of a president will be through direct, secret balloting, giving political parties the opportunity to participate in presidential elections and providing guarantees that the people can choose from more than one candidate,” Mubarak said as spontaneous cheers broke out.
“If it happens, it would be the first time in Egypt’s political history that anyone who is capable of shouldering the responsibility can come forward for presidential elections with parliamentary and popular support,” he added.
At press time, Parliament and the Shura Council had gathered for emergency sessions to begin debate on the text of the amendment, which Mubarak said would be put to a public referendum ahead of an election date expected in September.
COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/ebv/mubarak-throws-presidential-race-wide-open/ by Jaya Mckeown on 2021-03-04T12:01:51.528Z
As matters now stand, the constitution dictates that a single candidate be chosen by a two-thirds vote of the People’s Assembly and presented to the nation for a yes-no referendum.
Mubarak said his decision was motivated by “my absolute conviction of the need to consolidate efforts for more freedom and democracy” in Egypt. “I took this initiative to open a new era of reform,” he added.
Although greeted with cautious optimism by some Egyptian democracy activists who complained that Mubarak did not also call for term limits on the presidency, the announcement shocked the nation and won immediate praise from the international community.
Just two months ago, US President George W. Bush expressed his belief that “the great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East.”
“This fundamental change is the product of political stability,” said Mubarak, adding that “the right arm of democracy is a free press.”
Mubarak has yet to announce whether he will seek a fifth six-year term in office, but is widely expected to be nominated as the candidate of the ruling National Democratic Party.