CAIRO: Gamal Mubarak, son of Egypt s president and one of the country’s most influential politicians, took a stride further into the public eye this week, presenting himself as a man of the people but denying any desire to lead them. A two-hour interview on state television and a walkabout in a poor Cairo area reported by state media have further introduced Gamal to Egyptians and underlined his position as one of the most prominent people in public life. But the 42-year-old, a leading figure in the ruling party, reiterated recent remarks that he had no intention or desire to become president of the Arab world s most populous country, ruled by his father President Hosni Mubarak since 1981.
What I ve said is as clear as daylight, Gamal said in response to a question about whether he had presidential ambitions. His live appearance on Monday on the show Talk was advertised all day on state television and repeated on Tuesday. President Mubarak is 78 in May. His political advisor told Reuters this month the president would welcome retirement if he could find a replacement. Mubarak was not thinking of putting Gamal forward for the post, the advisor Osama El-Baz said. But diplomats and analysts see few other obvious candidates for the job within the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), currently the only group legally able to field a candidate for the post. The opposition is convinced Gamal will take power. During his interview, Gamal defended the government s political and economic reforms and took questions from viewers on unemployment, politics and his hobbies. The interviewer suggested Gamal was out of touch with Egyptians, while Gamal said he had visited every part of the country and had had a normal childhood. Perhaps the thing which one enjoys, or which gives me motivation in public work, and also in party work, is going down into the street and listening to the people, he said. The interviewer, who worked on Mubarak s presidential election campaign last year, congratulated Gamal on his recent engagement. He is in process of repackaging himself to the Egyptian public, sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim told Reuters. What the Egyptians say about him is that he is cold and he does not easily relate to them.
It looks as if they are trying to answer that by introducing him as a person who could be warm, could be reasonable and has no interest in power as such, he said. But if you re not interested, why go to all this trouble? Ibrahim asked. Gamal was pictured in Al-Ahram on Monday shaking hands with people in Cairo s working class area of Agouza, where the Future Generation Foundation he chairs was implementing a project to improve living standards. You would not imagine how much one gets out of going out, sitting with the people and feeling how the efforts you make affect their lives in some basic issues, Gamal said. Reuters