Egypt security plans for ElBaradei

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The above letter, published by Wael Abbas, is a State Security document giving instructions all the way back in March 2009 to monitor the phone lines of Mohammed ElBaradei, his family, and his wife's family as part of a comprehensive surveillance plan. As Zeinobia points out the authenticity of the document is to be verified, and Abbas has not disclosed his source (the concern here being, is Abbas cautious enough about being manipulated?) Of course this document sounds entirely plausible, I am sure ElBaradei and his family have been under close watch for a while. One recent estimate puts 5% of Egyptians under the payroll of security services or the military in some respect, I am sure some of that manpower is being directed against the potential threat against the regime that ElBaradei represents.

In the meantime, Amr Moussa has decided to stop playing coy and announced he will not be running for the presidency. Note his reasons:

Moussa, who had been tipped as a possible candidate, said in an interview published in Al Masry Al Youm newspaper on Wednesday it was not possible to mount a challenge.

"The question is, is it possible? And the answer is, the road is closed," he said.

[...]

Analysts say constitutional rules make an independent nomination almost impossible.

If Moussa were to run as an independent, he would need the backing of 250 elected representatives across both houses of parliament and local councils -- all of which are dominated by Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party.

"I cannot join a party just because it would enable me to be nominated . . . it is against my principles and I consider this to be clear political opportunism," Moussa said.

Running as a independent was a "difficult matter or even impossible," he added.


So basically Moussa has echoed ElBaradei's criticism of the electoral system, adding another establishment voice to the chorus calling the coming presidential elections, for all intents and purposes, already rigged.

Note here that actually a candidate would fairly easily be able to gather the number of backing from at least part of 250 elected representatives. The quota necessary from the People's Assembly is 65, which a candidate could obtain from the Muslim Brother MPs. This also explains why the regime cracked down so hard on the Brothers during the Shura Council and municipal elections in 2007 and 2008.
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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.