The annual conference of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NPD) was closed by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on Nov. 9 without any of the thousands of delegates referring once to the retirement of their ailing, 79-year old leader – although it was uppermost in every mind.
At the same time, the event set two historic process in train, according to DEBKA-Net–Weekly’s Middle East sources:
1. It paved the way for Mubarak to retire at the end of 2008 or early 2009, well before the end of his presidency in 2012.
2. It was understood by the party faithful that Gamal Jimmy Mubarak, the president’s 43-year old son, had been anointed his successor, a designation that was approved wordlessly by default.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Cairo sources note: Although the president was awarded the honor of opening and closing the ruling party’s annual convention, Jimmy, a former investment banker, was clearly in charge of the proceedings. He studiously avoided election to any party post, leaving himself free for the top spot. But he did head the committee which drew up the resolutions, and took the floor several times in the four-day meeting to explain them.
Jimmy’s speeches were invested with expressions of concern for the daily cares of the ordinary Egyptian. His publicists were clearly promoting his image as a popular leader who speaks for the man in the street rather than the hated political establishment.
Two telltale manifestations in the conference hall and its corridors confirmed that Mubarak Junior is on his way to the presidential palace.
For years, young Mubarak shrugged off claims that he was in line to succeed his father saying he had no such ambitions. Those denials were no longer forthcoming.
From investment banker to ruler of future nuclear power
Furthermore, Gamal and his henchmen took a firm hand in the voting for party institutions to exclude new blood and rejuvenation of the ranks. By keeping the faithful diehards in place, he made sure there would be no surprises when the time came to elect him president.
The conference therefore chose Safwat Al-Sharif to continue as party secretary general and Gamal Mubarak to continue as his deputy and Policy Committee secretary. The other party leadership members are all past 75, stalwarts of the president, who would not dream of challenging his choice to step into his shoes.
As a result, young Mubarak’s candidacy for president is in the bag and assured of a smooth electoral process. He will also be entrusted with Egypt’s future plans. The other striking feature of the conference was the statement by prime minister Ahmed Mohammed Nazif that Egypt will become a nuclear power in the next decade.
Gamal Mubarak holds an MBA from the American University of Cairo. After working at the Egyptian branch of the Bank of America, he was transferred to the London branch and climbed the ladder to become one of its executives. Investment banking is his forte.
But as his business career progressed, he was carefully and quietly groomed for the presidency.
In 2002, his father brought him into party politics straight to the top, naming him General Secretary of the NPD’s Policy Committee, the third most influential party post and the place where many government policies are incepted.
The ruling party holds a comfortable majority in parliament. In July 2004, Mubarak reshuffled the cabinet and appointed Dr. Nazif prime minister.
The new lineup was dubbed “Gamal’s cabinet” because most of the ministers were chosen from the NPD’s Policy Committee.