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Who are the potential players in Egyptian reform?

Who are the potential players in Egyptian reform?

As a popular uprising against the rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak shows no sign of letting up, the question is which people or groups could take a stake in power?

February 1, 2011 10:19 by


The secretary general of the Arab League was a popular foreign minister under Mubarak, celebrated by singers for his populist pro-Palestinian rhetoric during years of Arab-Israeli peacemaking. His move to the Arab League, a conservative organisation that backs existing Arab rulers, has tarnished his image somewhat but he has been cited in the past by many Egyptians as someone they would support as president. He has been vocal since the protests began, saying on Sunday he wanted to see multi-party democracy in Egypt.


Egyptian winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1999, Zewail said last year he had no political ambitions. However, newspapers said on Monday he would return on Tuesday to continue work in a committee for constitutional reform including Ayman Nour and prominent lawyers. Al-Shorouk newspaper published a “letter to the Egyptian people” in which he proposed a “council of wise men” to write a new constitution.


A popular Arab nationalist politician who leads the Karama party that has never achieved formal licencing from the government. Elected to parliament in 2005, Sabahi considered running in the presidential elections that year after Mubarak introduced amendments under pressure from Washington but later changed his mind. He was expected to attempt a bid for the presidency this year.


Respected trade union leader George Ishak founded the Kefaya movement in 2004 that galvanised protests against Mubarak’s rule in 2005 around the idea of rejecting his son Gamal as a future president. The movement, which appealed to middle class professionals, subsequently lost its momentum amid internal dissent but when protests began last week Kefaya appeared to play a role in mobilising them.


The Wafd party, with its roots before the 1952 military coup, has traditionally been the bastion of liberal democrats in Egypt. But it is seen as having been coopted by Mubarak’s government in recent years. The leftist Tagammu has played a similar role. Magdy Hussein, leader of the Islamist Labour party, is a popular opposition figure who has frequently been in and out jail.

(Writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)

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