Egyptian Elections SPIEGEL Interview with Egyptian Presidential Candidate Numan Gumaa
Gumaa discusses the pharaonic regime of Hosni Mubarak and explains why he continues to campaign in an election everyone belives will be manipulated. Mubarak, who has ruled for 24 years, is a virtual shoe-in for Wednesday's elections.
Hosni Mubarak has served as Egzptian president for 24 years. He's likely to continue long into the future.
Mr. Gumaa, are you campaigning for the office of president in a fair, free and secret election?
Gumaa: No. The entire apparatus of the state, especially the state-run media, is completely controlled by Mubarak's National Democratic Party. Every since his functionaries have begun to notice that I'm not just another token candidate, but that I have in fact been successful, I have become a target for their anger. Last week, in a speech to thousands of supporters in Kina, Egypt, I addressed the problem of drug use among our young people. I've been subjected to a smear campaign ever since. Equal opportunity and clean elections? Absolutely not.
SPIEGEL: Why do you even participate under these circumstances?
Gumaa: It was my party's decision to enter the campaign, despite the difficulties we expected to encounter. And there are certainly good reasons to do so. After all, our events have attracted tens of thousands of people. I didn't even want to campaign at first, because it was obviously not going to be a fair election. The government doesn't even want to allow independent judges to observe the election, preferring to retain absolute control over the ballot boxes from beginning to end.
SPIEGEL: But there are signs that international election observers are now being allowed in after all.
Gumaa: Even if that were the case, they would be too late. Their mission would have had to be prepared well in advance. You can't approach this sort of thing a few days before an election. In theory, 32 million registered voters are entitled to go to the polls. This is an enormous undertaking.
SPIEGEL: How many Egyptians do you believe will actually vote on Wednesday?
Gumaa: Certainly not more than two or three million. And that's not even all that surprising, since no one believes that this will be a fair election.
SPIEGEL: What do you think is the key issue of this election campaign? What concerns people most?
Gumaa: The people want total change. They want to get rid of the entire political gang that has been in power for the past two and a half decades. They hate this clique. People want freedom, they want democracy, and they want to enjoy the economic benefits of this freedom. The majority of our people live in poverty. We must establish social justice, otherwise a change doesn't make any sense at all.
SPIEGEL: Do the attacks at Taba and Sharm al-Sheikh show that the dangers of militant Islam are growing in Egypt?
Gumaa: If we manage to achieve true political and economic stability, I won't be worried about extremism in our country. The Egyptians are a civilized, peaceful people.
SPIEGEL: How much support does your party have?
Gumaa: If the elections are above-board, we, as a liberal melting pot, could easily capture 40 percent of the vote.
SPIEGEL: And what sort of outcome do you expect personally in the presidential election?
Gumaa: That depends on the percentage of votes the ruling party decides to hand out to us. Unfortunately, the voters have little say in this. The results will undoubtedly be manipulated.