Egypt’s first contested presidential election campaign has opened quietly amidfew signs it is likely to excite much popular interest. President Hosni Mubarak had the only paid political advert in a major newspaper today. And with the country’s main opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, banned from the poll, analysts say he is bound to win.
One of the biggest obstacles to a hotly-contested ballot appears to be a widespread suspicion of politics.
Sociologists say many Egyptians are either unaware of alternative candidates or unwilling to get too involved after half a century of authoritarian rule by men from military backgrounds.
One of Mubarak’s main challengers is lawyer Ayman Nour of the liberal Ghad (Tomorrow) Party.
He said he and his supporters were betting on the confidence of the Egyptian people and their desire for change. He said this was stronger than ever because of economic, social and political failures at all levels.
Other candidates include Noman Gomaa of the Wafd party, a revival of the group that dominated politics before the army overthrew the monarchy in 1952, and Osama Shaltout, of the al-Takaful party.
But, apart from the Muslim Brotherhood, the opposition groups have been unable to draw crowds of more than a few hundred, meaning Mubarak’s victory is all but inevitable.