Mubarak has not stood down as party leader

Saturday 05 February 2011 21.52
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Hosni Mubarak - Continuing as President
Hosni Mubarak - Continuing as President
Egypt - Protest have continued in Cairo's Tahrir Square
Egypt - Protest have continued in Cairo's Tahrir Square
Hosni Mubarak - Resisted calls from Barak Obama to stand down
Hosni Mubarak - Resisted calls from Barak Obama to stand down

The leadership of Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party has resigned, including Gamal Mubarak, the son of President Hosni Mubarak whose rule has been shaken by days of protests, state television said.

Al Arabiya television said Mubarak had also resigned as head of the ruling party, but later retracted that report.

A party official said that if Mubarak had resigned from the party it would not affect his position as president.

‘These are two different positions,’ the official said.

In its report, state television named the new secretary-general as Hossam Badrawi, seen as a member of the liberal wing of the party.

‘(The resignation) is very important politically because this party was exploiting the state for the interests of the party, and that has caused a lot of criticism,’ said analyst Diaa Rashwan, adding that it had fuelled anger over corruption.

Protestors who have rocked Egypt's political system have complained about corruption, poverty and political repression that left power in the hands of Mubarak and his allies.

‘Practically, it is important because the people using violence were being mobilised by the party ... and now they have been stripped of this protection and they won't feel secure that they have a party behind them,’ Rashwan said.

The outgoing leaders include secretary general Safwat el-Sherif, 77, who has been powerful in the Egyptian establishment since the 1960s and is a pillar of the old guard.

Sherif is also speaker of the upper house of parliament.

Without a place in the leadership, Gamal Mubarak would no longer qualify as the party's presidential candidate under the existing constitution.

President Mubarak himself bears the title of NDP president and state television did not say that had changed.

The outgoing leadership make up the five-man core committee in the party. The other members are Zakaria Azmi, Mubarak's chief of staff, NDP spokesman Ali el-Din Hilal and steel magnate Ahmed Ezz, who had already resigned a few days after the outbreak of the popular uprising against Mubarak.

The party was one of the main targets of the uprising and its headquarters near Tahrir Square was gutted by fire during the protests.

Bilal Fathi, 22, a member of the protest movement, said: ‘These are not gains for the protestors. This is a trick by the regime. This is not fulfilling our demands. These are red herrings.’

The protestors' main demand is that President Mubarak leave office.