Candidacy applications have only just begun in the run-up to the parliamentary elections and many people are already raising concerns over the considerable number of well-known former Hosni Mubarak regime members who have put their hat in the ring.
Former members of the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP), namely steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, his wife Shahinaz Al Nagar and former MPs Hany Serour and Haider al-Baghdady, have presented themselves as candidates, thereby coloring the air with names that have not been prevalent in politics since the Mubarak era before the 2011 revolution.
Despite the fact that there is no court verdict keeping any of them from running in the parliamentary elections, the question that must be posed is: are the new parliamentary elections forshadowing the return of the Mubarak autocratic era?
“It’s not the return, it’s an update to the old regime,” said Hassan Nafaa a political professor at the faculty of economics and political science at Cairo University.
Meanwhile, the well-known Nobel-prize winning politician Mohamed ElBaradei recently told an Austrian newspaper Die Presse, “The faces and belief system of the Mubarak regime have returned, but it would be impossible for the the system itself to return.”
When speaking of the reasons these former NDP members are participating in the upcoming elections, Nafaa added that their candidacy was built on two significant points: clearing their name and the general political atmosphere.
Speaking to privately-owned TV channel Al-Hayah, politician and former MP Moustafa Bakry condemned Ezz’s candidacy, saying that it is an attempt to prove to people that he was innocent, as he was accused of fraud in the 2010 parliamentary elections.
Nafaa expects these personalities will win the elections due to the high number of loyalists, the considerable number of illiterate voters and the many desperate people who gave up on the 25 January revolt upon seeing the outcome and now believe the old regime will provide a better life.
“The general atmosphere motivates their candidacy, especially with the acquittal of Mubarak and his sons, and the pro-regime media which discredits the 25 January uprising is yet another catalyst that supports the return of the NDP,” Nafaa said.
Nafaa believes that these politicians’ candidacy is a direct return to the old Mubarak regime. “They are making perfect use of the 30 June uprising to re-emerge to the political scene, the same as the Muslim Brotherhood has done following the 25 January revolution,” he said.
Ezz was one of the most prominent politicians and a powerful businessman during the Mubarak era. He was the NDP’s political engine and a close ally to the ousted president’s family.
After the 25 January revolt, he was sent to prison on charges of money laundering and monopolization in the steel industry. Between 2011 and 2013, Ezz was sentenced to a total of 10 to 37 years in prison, but was released on bail in 2014 after paying LE100 million (US$13.9 million).
Ezz urged Egyptians to forget the past, possibly referring to accusations made against him and the NDP for corrupting the political scene, which he dominated for 30 years under Mubarak.
According to Ezz, he has ignored advice from all of his closest friends asking him not to run in the parliament elections so as to avoid the same public outcry that fueled the 2011 uprising against the Mubarak regime.
“But despite those warnings, I do not find in my conscience something stronger than [a desire] to share the dream of development, economic and industrial growth with the people of my country,” he said.
Sorour as a former MP during Mubarak’s regime as well as a prominent member in the NDP. Sorour, who was CEO of Haidylena for Advanced Medical Industries Company, is most known for overseeing a scandal where his company was charged with the distribution of as many as 300,000 bags of contaminated blood to hospitals in Egypt.
The blood allegedly contained traces of bacteria and fungi, harming the receivers of blood transfusions. The health ministry worker Sohair al-Sharqawy who reported the contamination was allegedly dismissed for her role as whistleblower. This case raised public outrage, resulting in a drastic fall in the number blood donations.
Sorour, who had by then fled the country, was sentenced to three years in absentia.