The Big Pharaoh
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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Mubarak’s Surprise: Lessa!

I am not sure if you heard about President Mubarak 3 parts interview that started to air last Sunday. In a Barbara walters type of interview, Mubarak shared his personal story from the day he met President Nasser until he became president. The show was unusually very informal and casual. The aim was to paint Mubarak as the “warrior” who fought for Egypt and the president who is “close to the people”. I felt that the tremendous emphasis on his military career as compared to his record in the presidency was meant to send a single message: Egypt needs a military guy to keep the country intact. Unfortunately, I tend to believe that this is very true!

72 million Egyptians were glued to their TV screens waiting to hear the “Mubarak surprise” in part 3 of the interview. Speculations were flying everywhere yesterday morning. Will Mubarak declare his intent to seek a fifth term in office? Will he appoint a vice president (an indication of who will succeed Mubarak)? Who will this vice president be? Will it be Omar Solieman (chief of intelligence agency)? Will Mubarak end the emergency laws that were installed 25 years ago right after Sadat’s assassination? All those questions raced through our minds as we waiting for the interview at night. The government owned newspaper, Al Ahram, only fueled to our game of speculations by printing this headline on the front page: President Mubarak will reveal today whether he will run for presidency or not.

So, like millions of Egyptians, I stayed glued in front of the TV. I didn’t watch part 1 and part 2 because I knew that all the “juicy lucy” stuff will be in part 3. The interviewer kept asking questions about the economy, political parties, blah blah. Then the final question came and the guy asked Mubarak about whether he decided to seek another term or not. Mubarak answered with a single word that threw an ice bucket on the faces of millions (not to mention the millions of cuss words that were uttered by the people when the show ended). The word was “lessa”! It literally means “still”. Or “I didn’t decide yet”. The show ended after that.

Ummmm, nice try Mr. President. I loved the way he played it. It showed that up till now, only Mubarak and Mubarak alone can rule Egypt.

Here is my 5 cents to what might happen: Mubarak will run for a fifth term but this time he will appoint a vice president prior or after winning the elections. Mubarak will stay for a year or two in office and then step down from power and then his vice will become the new president.


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