CAIRO: The withdrawal of the opposition candidates after the first round of the 2010 parliamentary elections was a “genius move” that confused the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, 56, told Al-Nahar TV Tuesday.
“The big mistake, and I do not absolve myself from this responsibility at all; the historic mistake was cancelling judicial supervision [over elections,]” said Ezz, former senior member of the policies committee of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP.)
The controversial 2010 elections, NDP, and “fatal mistakes”
The NDP won 420 seats out of 518 in the 2010 People’s Assembly, a figure that Ezz attributed to that “80 percent of seats in Egypt are determined in the runoff,” a race that most parties and independent figures boycotted after fraud allegations in the first round.
Ruling out that Gamal Mubarak was being groomed to inherit the rule of Egypt, and denying that the NDP planned a forgery of the elections, Ezz said he is “not running to reproduce the past,” adding that Mubarak’s regime “is gone and will not come back.”
The “reality of the situation” at the time, according to Ezz, was that the real contestant of the NDP was the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the NDP hoped civil parties were more capable of winning over a larger fraction of parliamentary seats.
Ezz revealed that the secretariat of the NDP expected that the Brotherhood would win 77 seats in the best case scenario, and 120 to 122 in the worst case scenario.
In the parliamentary elections of 2005, which was monitored by judges, the NDP won 330 seats and the Brotherhood won 88. All polls following the 2001 upheaval have been monitored by judges and prosecutors.
In his defense of the NDP, Ezz said the party is an extension of the Socialist Union, and that another reason for the people’s massive protests in 2011 was that there was no alternative to the “60-year-old regime.”
However, he admitted that the amendment of Article 76 of the constitution in 2005 was a “fatal mistake” because it prevented independent personalities from running for president.
Ezz’s parliamentary ambition and the regime
The High Elections Committee (HEC) rejected Ezz’s application for candidacy in the March elections, but he challenged the decision before a court. The HEC said Ezz did not submit requisite financial disclosure forms, instead submitting his wife’s, as he had been barred from opening bank accounts as a result of embezzlement charges.
However, Ezz is legally entitled to run, as all his convictions were canceled. A retrial is expected after the Cassation Court accepted his challenge, but until a final ruling is issued, he is not banned from assuming a public position.
“I am interested in the development of my country from a legislative position that I believe I have expertise in,” the ambitious businessman said was his only reason for running for the elections, as he has the adequate “expertise.”
“In the past four years all my life has been investigated. I was tried. If I won a parliamentary seat I will let go of the immunity,” promised the successful engineer, who was jailed for almost four years.
In response to an accusation by the channel’s anchor that Ezz represents a burden to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and the front that called for the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, Ezz pleaded “please do not inject the President in this… it is much simpler and does not bear involving the President.”
“I am alone in the elections. I present myself to a constituency. I believe I have this right,” Ezz said, adding that his parliamentary ambition is not motivated by proving who was “right or wrong.”
He also said the “front of June 30,” referring to massive 2013 anti-Morsi protests, is “much stronger that to be affected” by him.
Apologetic Ezz on democracy and ElBaradei
“Exclusion now means exclusion in the future,” Ezz said, arguing it is “undemocratic” to prevent him from running in the elections.
“Is this the democracy of the victorious? Is it the justice of the victorious?” he asked, adding that he those who advocate democracy should “advocate his right” to run in the elections, especially that many of the candidates were former members of the NDP, according to Ezz.
Ezz also had a comment on former Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei.
“He (ElBaradei) always believed he represents a large bloc of Egyptians, my opinion is that he does not represent a large bloc or anything, my opinion is that it is difficult that he expresses realistically about Egyptians because he was far from Egypt for a long time,” Ezz said.
He also claimed there is a “political alliance” between ElBaradei and Brotherhood, saying that subsequent events are not too far from what he said months before the revolution, referring to a 2010 interview with CNN’s Christian Amanpour.
ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, expressed presidential ambitions in 2010. He only assumed a government authority after he accepted the post of Vice President following Morsi’s ouster. However, he soon resigned as hundreds were being killed at the hands of the police at Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013.
“I apologize for having been one of the people against whom the Egyptian people revolted in 2011… at the very least; I apologize for the wrath, of which I was one of its reasons,” Ezz said.
“In the face of this anger, I keep apologizing until the last breath,” added Ezz.
Ezz, who has been accused by the public of steel monopoly, was arrested in February 2011 pending several graft cases amid popular jubilance. In one of his court sessions in the same month, several people filmed him inside the dock with other officials and businessmen close to former President Hosni Mubarak, and angry voices were heard calling Ezz and his companions “dogs” and “thieves.”