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Internal strife led to the collapse of Mubarak's party.

Cairo Internal fighting in the National Democratic Party (NDP) prevented its members from reading the writing on the wall and led to the eventual collapse of the party led by toppled president Hosni Mubarak early this year, a former NDP member recalls.

Gehad Auda also told Gulf News in an interview this week that bureaucratic powers and corruption were hindering attempts to rejuvenate the party.

"The NDP collapsed because it was a party that included different rival and competing wings at the same time," said Auda, a political science professor.

"The internal strife was among the factors that led to the collapse of the party. [And] its leadership was not wise enough to protect the party's unity."

More importantly, Auda continued, was the "social coup" on January 25, which brought down the Mubarak regime and the 33-year-old party he led.

"Some of the members of the NDP were corrupt, but not all of them" Auda said.

With the people at heart

"Some people joined the party to provide services to the people as there was no other way to serve the people," he noted.

Mubarak and the NDP are blamed by Egyptians for the rampant corruption during his 30-year rule, and high levels of poverty and poor living conditions.

"The signs were there", Auda said.

"But there were some leaders who kept downplaying the impact of the signs."

While many observers believe it will be difficult for former NDP members to win elections in big cities due to the high anti-NDP sentiment, Auda said the situation was likely to be different in rural areas, mainly in the southern part of the country, where tribal relations are strong.

Comparing the current elections with the one last year, Auda said 2010 elections "were made elections. They were held under a system that makes [an] election and distribute its results. But these elections, they are being held in a status of revolutionary chaos."

He was referring to the instability that prevailed before Monday's elections following bloody confrontations between security forces and demonstrators who said they were "protecting their revolution by ending the military rule".

Some youth groups even called for a boycott of the elections. However, voter turnout appears to have been high after long queues were recorded at most polling stations during the two days that elections were held.

Last year's elections -- in which the NDP candidates secured almost all parliamentary seats -- were the likely straw that broke the camel's back.

"[They] triggered the revolution," said Auda, a former member of different committees in the NDP, including the Policies Committee headed by Jamal Mubarak then.

Apart from other top positions he held since 1996, Auda was a member in the Economic and Information and Media committees.

The NDP's plan to position Jamal Mubarak for the presidency, against the will of the people, was among the main reasons for the growing anger among Egyptians, observers noted.

The revolution coincided with a split within the NDP, pitting self-independents against bureaucratic powers, Auda said.

International perspective

At the same time, "the differences between the international decision-making and information centres were among the most important reasons behind Mubarak's fall on the international dimension."

Some big Western powers, including the United States, waited many days before calling on Mubarak, who was their ally in the region, to step down.

The former Egyptian president stepped down 18 days into the revolution, handing over the power to the military, which was credited by the citizens for protecting the revolution.

The army in Egypt differs from the army in other Arab countries due to the fact that it is an "institutional army," Auda said.

"The army is part of the institutions in Egypt, and it is the bureaucracy that keeps our lives normal despite the disturbances," Auda added.

In response to a question about a deal between the army and Mubarak to step down, Auda said "Mubarak returned the trust given to him by the army to the army," without giving further details.

All Egyptian presidents since the 1952 military coup, or revolution came from the army, including Mubarak. "At the end, the army is the reference in any crisis," Auda said of the system in Egypt.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Dec 2, 2011
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