Poor Hosni

So Egypt's Hosni Mubarak says he's OK with having competition in the presidential elections -- but of course he's not saying he's OK with changing the constitution so that others can run against him:

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981, said he did not mind others seeking nomination for this year's presidential referendum but that the top job was tough and offered no private life.


Parliament has yet to choose the sole candidate allowed to run in the September referendum. But Mubarak is expected to be nominated again, despite reformers' calls for the government to amend the constitution and allow more than one candidate to run.


Three prominent intellectuals have announced their intention to run for the position in a symbolic challenge to Mubarak.


Asked about those seeking to run against him, 76-year-old Mubarak said: "Let them go ahead, this is good. Democracy is like this. I hope that 100 nominate (themselves). Why will I get angry? I won't get angry."


My favorite part of this story is when Mubarak complains about how tough being a dictator is:

When asked about his job, Mubarak said: "Firstly, whoever sits in the chair of the president of Egypt, his health, time and nerves are ruined and he has no private life at all.


"If I want to go to one place or another, it's impossible, or walk in the street, it's impossible," he said, adding that he could not go to a restaurant or cinema.


"I stay surrounded by walls," he said, adding that even when he traveled abroad, he could not leave the hotel where he stayed because of security.


"It means the president of Egypt is a detainee," he said.


Vintage Hosni.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.