Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Egyptian opposition figure and founder of the El Ghad party, Ayman Nour, spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat about his hopes for the future in Egypt. Nour ran against then president Hosni Mubarak in the 2005 presidential elections, winning 7 percent of the vote – according to government officials – with independent observers estimating his share of the vote as potentially being as high as 13 percent in the elections which were widely reported to have been subject to vote rigging. Nour was arrested on charges of forgery in the run-up to the elections, being convicted of this crime after coming second to Mubarak at the 2005 elections, and later being sentenced to 5 years in prison. He was released in 2009, and played a role in the Egyptian 25 January revolution, appearing in Tahrir Square, the center of the anti-Mubarak uprising. Nour spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat about his intentions for the future, confirming that he intends to put himself forward as a candidate at the forthcoming presidential elections in Egypt. He also called on the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to draft a new constitution, abolition the state of emergency, and revoke the ban on strikes and demonstrations.
The following is the full text of the interview:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] You have announced your candidacy for the forthcoming presidential elections, and you also stood against then-president Mubarak In the 2005 presidential elections, what have been the differences between the two experiences?
[Nour] The 2005 presidential elections was ruled by fraud, and politically monopolized by former president Mubarak, who exploited all of the state’s resources in order to ensure that his regime and party remained in power for life. As for the forthcoming presidential elections, I expect this to take place within a framework of transparency.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] The debate has raged over whether you will be allowed to stand at the forthcoming presidential elections in Egypt, after you were previously convicted of forging petitions resulting in your election as presidential candidate of the El Ghad party. Can you tell us the latest legal position on this issue?
[Nour] I have no comment about the current debate on this issue. I filed a petition to the Egyptian Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud calling for a review of this case, and this was accepted by the Attorney General and he referred this to the Court of Cassation on 17 February . A committee made up of members of the Court of Cassation and Court of Appeal examined the petition, in preparation for the Court of Cassation’ decision on this case, which called for the case to be retried. This is a legal decision that expunges the judgment issued against me until this case can be brought to trial once more; therefore I have the legal right to stand for the presidential election.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Who will you appoint as your vice-president, should you win at the presidential elections?
[Nour] Indeed I have a list of figures who have been nominated for the post of vice president, this includes Christians, women, and figures who have announced their intention to run at the presidential elections, however I will not reveal any names at the present time.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is there any truth to the reports that you intend to establish a new political party?
[Nour] This is not a new political party, but rather a liberal coalition that includes different political parties, organizations and figures, and my party [El Ghad] will be a part of this.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are the objectives of this liberal coalition? Will you be standing for election as head of the El Ghad party, or as the leader of this liberal coalition?
[Nour] The coalition’s objective will be to unite the efforts of the liberal parties and organizations during the forthcoming period. We intend to take part in the parliamentary elections as part of a united list, or at the very least, with coordination between members of the coalition on all levels.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] There are two liberal parties on the scene, the Wafd party, and the Democratic Front party; will either of these parties be joining your liberal coalition?
[Nour] I cannot talk about details regarding the membership of the liberal coalition at the present time.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] There is huge debate within Egyptian politics regarding the assessment of the transitional period since the 25 January revolution. What actions do you consider to be a necessity in the coming period?
[Nour] The most important procedure that the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces that is running the country must carry out is to draft a new constitution, because any modification or amendment of the current constitution will not achieve the aspirations of the people. In addition to this, the emergency law must be completely abolished, with laws that compliment the constitution being put in place, and the presidential election being carried out first, before the parliamentary elections, in order to give the political parties sufficient time to prepare for the [parliamentary] elections, as the former regime imposed dictatorial restrictions [upon the political scene].
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your opinion of the law criminalizing protests, and the controversy surrounding it?
[Nour] The culture of protests, demonstration, and strikes, is part of the vocabulary of the 25 January revolution, and the Council of Ministers claim that criminalizing this is in order to confront any counter-revolution attempts is not true, because the adoption of such a law stands against the principles and demands of the revolution. The Council of Ministers and Supreme Council of Armed Forces should take decision to fix the situation and address the problems that leads to demonstrations.