FRESH PRINCE OF CAIRO:

Clearing the Path For Scion of Egypt: Hosni Mubarak’s Son Climbs Party Ranks As Country’s Leaders Undercut His Rivals (Daniel Williams, 3/10/06, Washington Post )

The son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and a group of close associates have moved into key political positions that put the younger man in line to succeed his aging father at a time when the government has taken steps to block opposition rivals from challenging the heir apparent.

Last month, Gamal Mubarak rose in the hierarchy of the governing National Democratic Party, whose grass-roots organization underpins his father’s rule. He was named one of three NDP deputy secretaries general, and 20 of his associates took other high-ranking posts in the party. Mubarak had served as head of the party’s policies committee, which helped fashion economic reforms.

Mubarak and his backers displaced some, but not all, of the veteran NDP activists known collectively as the old guard. Political observers saw in the move a gradual shift toward putting the NDP at the service of the president’s son. […]

Mubarak, 42, is surrounded by a group of devoted supporters who have taken to what Egyptian analysts call “managed reform.” Some call the group a shilla , Arabic for gang. The group includes businessmen, academics and Egyptians with political pedigrees in their families. Most are in their late thirties or early forties; many were educated and worked in the West. English is their second language.

Among the most prominent are Ahmed Ezz, a steel and ceramics magnate who is newly in charge of overseeing membership in the NDP; Rachid Mohamed Rachid, a former chief executive of Unilever Egypt who is now minister of trade and foreign investment; Mahmoud Mohieedin, a former finance professor who heads the NDP economic policy committee and is also investments minister; Finance Minister Yousef Boutros-Ghali, nephew of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the former U.N. secretary general; and Mohammed Kamal, a Cairo University political scientist who heads efforts to re-indoctrinate NDP members in a bid to modernize the party.

Kamal, the unofficial spokesman, said the group defined itself as an outward-looking alternative to political Islam. “We don’t want to be associated automatically with the West, but we think it is okay to look outside of Egypt for solutions,” he said. “New blood means people with fresh ideas as well as the political experience.”

Now give Egyptians a reason to prefer the NDP to the Muslim Brotherhood.

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