February 2, 2005

It is Elections Year!

Last week, our government started its preparations for the 2005 presidential and parliamentary elections both on the local front and on the international front.

It started by arresting three persons in the Cairo International Book Fair. The accusations were “disturbing the general peace”. They were distributing flyers against the re-election of President Mubarak.

Then, the parliamentary immunity of opposition leader Ayman Nour was stripped away to allow investigations regarding alleged accusations of forging documents that are part of his application for the establishment of a new liberal party. The new party calls for constitutional reform (including the reform of presidential elections), canceling the state of emergency and free elections. The opposition party leader was arrested and detained for 45 days (no bail!). It took over two years and around four rejections from the parties approval committee to approve this new party. It was not even approved by the committee, it was actually established by a court order! During all this time of “studying” the documents of the proposed party, they were never checked if they forged or not. Such checks are only done or “appear” only during elections year.

And the usual and frequent procedure of arresting some members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group comes as nice reminder to the brothers: “you are still an illegal movement”.

Finally, comes the kissy kissy part! An invitation was extended to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to attend a summit in Sharm El Sheikh. This is the first time since Mr. Sharon was elected in 2001 that he is invited to Egypt. Also, it is his first time to meet President Mubarak. The latter refused to meet Sharon unless real progress has been made in the Middle East peace talks. But, it is elections year! A tiny concession to get the blessings of the US of A won’t hurt. Especially if this cpmes as a preparation to the coming visit of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice! It might make her job easier. The message is clear President Mubarak is a strong ally and is needed in the Middle East to bridge between the two enemies. He can not step down now! Of course not!

Some voices in Egypt have been shut down. Others got the warning message. The blessing of the US of A is underway. It seems that everything is ready for elections year!

Doesn’t this make you sad, angry and frustrated? Or is it just me?

But, still there is hope. Always! Things can not remain the same for ever. Dawam el hal min al mouhal. There are still voices that believe in change and will fight for it.

I want to return home and join the resistance.


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