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05CAIRO5821 2005-07-28 17:08:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
Cable title:  

MUBARAK ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY; PROPOSES ANTI-TERROR

Tags:   PGOV KDEM EG 
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1. (C) In a July 28 keynote speech, President Mubarak
made several major announcements, including his decision
to run for a fifth term, plans to replace the Emergency
Law with new anti-terror legislation, and a call for an
emergency Arab summit to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh on
August 3. Mubarak also vowed to implement future legis-
lative, parliamentary, and constitutional reforms with
an aim to confront terrorism, and to continue economic
reform. Given his inevitable victory, the most signifi-
cant aspect of Mubarak's announcement was his specific
proposal to replace the Emergency Law with anti-terrorism
legislation. Mubarak, in a strong anti-terrorism posi-
tion following the Sharm bombings, had a perfect opportu-
nity to propose new measures to fight terrorism and to
kick off his election campaign on a high note by promi-
sing to end the unpopular Emergency Law. End summary.



--------------------------


The Candidate


--------------------------





2. (U) Speaking in his hometown of Shibin el Kom in the
central Delta governorate of Menoufiyya, President Mubarak
announced his candidacy in Egypt's first-ever multi-
candidate presidential election, scheduled for September 7.
"I intend on applying for nomination so that I might run
for the office of president in this coming presidential
election," Mubarak said. Adding that he will "seek to win
the trust and support of the people for a new term," he
emphasized that he was seeking another term not for glory,
but for the opportunity to continue serving the people of
Egypt. As part of his campaign kick off, Mubarak high-
lighted his military experience, his rise to the presi-
dency, and his post-election vision for reform.



--------------------------


Emergency Law to be Abolished?


--------------------------





3. (U) President Mubarak also called for new anti-terrorism
legislation to replace the decades-old Emergency Law, empha-
sizing that constitutional and legislative reforms would be
needed to eliminate terrorism. Noting that the Emergency
Law had been in effect since 1914, Mubarak said "the time
has come to create a decisive mechanism to fight terrorism."
While defending the use of the Emergency Law to respond to
"the tragic circumstances" of the past, he said that the
time had come to follow the example of other countries that
had recently passed comprehensive laws to combat terrorism.



4. (U) In vowing to implement future legislative, parlia-
mentary and constitutional reforms, especially to combat
terrorism, Mubarak pointed out that the reforms would also
include legislation to curb emergency powers granted to the
President of the Republic during threats to national
security.



--------------------------


Arab Conference in Sharm


--------------------------





5. (U) Mubarak also called for a regional conference to be
held in Sharm el-Sheikh on August 3. Stating that the
region was witnessing "worrisome developments" in the Pales-
tinian arena and in Iraq, and facing "many other challen-
ges," Mubarak said a summit was needed to formulate a shared
Arab vision.



--------------------------


Highlighting the Reform Agenda


--------------------------





6. On economic issues, Mubarak confirmed his commitment to
economic reform. He stated that economic liberalization
-- aimed at increasing employment and economic growth --
would continue to be the foundation of Egypt's economic
reform policies. Pledging to raise and modernize Egyptians'
standard of living, Mubarak said that economic reform would
continue to target modernization of the pension and social
security systems, women's rights, support for female single-
parent families, and protection of the lower class, inclu-
ding workers, and farmers. He emphasized that his policies
would also help the middle class achieve their aspirations
and ambitions. Mubarak concluded that his vision was not
wishful thinking or rosy promises, but rather an expression
of his ability to implement it.


--------------------------


Initial Media Reaction


--------------------------





7. (SBU) Egyptian television offered its predictably
positive commentary on President Mubarak's speech, with
Nabil Helmy, professor of Law at Zagizig University,
touting the "historical significance" of the announcement
on morning talk shows. Al-Jazeera, however, aired inter-
views with commentators who were highly critical of speech.
They included: Magdi Hussein, editor of the Islamist
newspaper Al Shaab; George Ishaq, a leader of the Kifaya,
or "Enough" movement; and Abdallah Senawi, editor of the
Nasserist weekly Al Arabi. These commentators denounced
the presidential elections as a "farce," and questioned
Mubarak's plans for reform.



8. (C) Comment: In light of the inevitable victory for
Mubarak in the September 7 elections, the most significant
aspect of Mubarak's announcement was his specific proposal
to replace the Emergency Law with anti-terrorism legisla-
tion. The Sharm El-Sheikh bombings provided Mubarak with
a reason to address the long-simmering Emergency Law issue
without appearing to back down on terrorism and gives him
a popular move-both domestically and internationally-to
kick off his presidential election campaign. End comment.

JONES