First Published: 2005-06-16

Sadat 'Mark II' to run for Egypt presidency

Anwar Sadat’s nephew accuses Egyptian President of wrecking his uncle's popular legacy.


Middle East Online

By Lamia Radi - CAIRO

Anwar Sadat assassinated in 1981

The nephew of assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat officially announced Thursday plans to run for president in September and accused incumbent Hosni Mubarak of wrecking his uncle's popular legacy.

Talaat Sadat, 51, had planned to launch his presidential bid at the mausoleum erected on the site of his illustrious uncle's 1981 murder, but access was forbidden by military police, an AFP correspondent reported.

"We apologise for any inconvenience due to maintenance work," read signs in English and Arabic on the barriers sealing off the area on the outskirts of Cairo.

"It's a very strange situation because we had received an authorisation letter from the authorities," said Sadat, who held his press conference on the nearest street corner after laying two wreaths on his uncle's tomb.

A few dozen supporters waving posters and banners turned out for the official announcement of Sadat's candidacy in the country's first pluralist presidential elections in decades.

A traditional "Hassaballah" band was also present at the event. It played a well-known song to the glory of Anwar Sadat entitled "Ya Sadat, Ya Habibna" (Sadat, Our Love).

However, Talaat departed from his uncle's policy of overture towards Israel by eluding the issue of further normalisation and taking an aggressive stand.

"If I am elected ... never will an Israeli tank come right up to our border and shoot down our sons," he told reporters, alluding to the killing of three Egyptian soldiers at the border with the Gaza Strip last year.

Talaat Sadat, from the small opposition Al-Ahrar (The Free) party, lambasted Mubarak, whom he accused of wrecking the country since succeeding his uncle in 1981.

"No political party can claim not to be infiltrated by the security services. They have a hand in every movement ... and run the country's political life," he charged.

"I am not satisfied with the country's security policies nor with the way Egyptians are being treated," he told the press.

Sadat, who will also run against a jailed Islamist leader convicted in his uncle's murder, vowed that one of the first points in his programme would be to lift the state of emergency slapped on the country since that time.

With a small badge representing his uncle in full military attire pinned to his lapel, he also promised to free all political detainees and use the prisons for the country's benefit.

In another jab at the president, he referred to an anti-corruption tribunal set up under his uncle's 17-year tenure and said: "If Mubarak and his sons appeared in front of this court, they would be sentenced".

Sadat proposed slashing the budget of the interior ministry, which he estimated at six billion Egyptian pounds (more than one billion dollars).

He also said 46 billion dollars had illegally fled the country since Mubarak came to power and suggested the money should be returned to solve Egypt's debt problem.

"In my programme, I will request a list of names of those who have more than one million dollars in bank accounts in Switzerland and the United States," he said. "Sadat did not leave Egypt in such a state."

On Thursday, the Egyptian parliament approved an electoral bill setting out the legal framework for the upcoming vote.

It comes four months after Mubarak proposed, under domestic and international pressure, a constitutional amendment allowing multi-candidate elections.

Until now, Egyptians have only been able to say yes or no to a single candidate picked by parliament, which is overwhelmingly dominated by Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party.

Sadat said he welcomed the constitutional change. "I was surprised by Mubarak's proposal which, by the grace of God, he made in Menufeya (both men's home province) on my birthday."

He nevertheless echoed the opposition's complaints that the electoral law was too restrictive and barred other candidates from mounting a serious challenge to the 77-year-old leader, who is expected to seek a fifth mandate.


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