3/12/2005

How does that democracy thing work again?

From the WaPo:
Two weeks after President Hosni Mubarak announced that Egypt would hold multi-candidate presidential elections, the first politician to say he would run was sitting in jail. Inmate No. 1387 at Tora jail is Ayman Nour, a lawyer and member of parliament. Nour, whose small Tomorrow Party was legalized in October and holds six seats in Egypt's 454-member parliament, is only one of thousands of Egyptian political figures jailed during decades of authoritarian rule. Yet since his arrest Jan. 29 on suspicion of forging official documents, his fate has become intertwined with the destiny of political change in Egypt. Nour had taken positions recently that were daring by the standards of Egyptian political discourse. On the eve of a meeting between Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party and opposition groups, he sent a letter demanding that Mubarak attend the conference; otherwise, Nour said he would not. This assertion of equality irritated the president, party insiders said. Nour was jailed three days before the conference opened...In parliament, Nour carried out investigations of everything from bread prices to torture, endearing himself to his impoverished constituency, supporters say. He operated a charity office and community center in Bab ash-Shariya that provided medical advice, a hall for free weddings, and school lessons for children.

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