The article incorrectly said that Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party is the only party legally eligible to field a presidential candidate. A 10-year provision in a 2007 constitutional amendment made it possible for registered political parties that have a single seat in parliament and have been in operation for five years to field a candidate.
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In Egypt, A Son Is Readied for Succession
Gamal Mubarak denies any interest in the presidency, but he is accumulating power in the ruling party and as his father's economic adviser.
Most Egyptians call Gamal "Jimmy." Educated in Egypt, Gamal, 43, left a job as an investment banker in London in 2000 to return home, and took a post as head of the ruling party's policy committee. He married for the first time this year.
Acquaintances of the family say that his shyness makes him appear reserved and that he is a devoted uncle who films his older brother's children at school events. Young members of the ruling party call him funny and relaxed in private.
Gamal Mubarak is credited with putting his wonky inclinations to work by helping build a team of savvy, energetic officials around his father, including Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, to overhaul the socialist-oriented economic policies inherited from President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Cautious but business-friendly changes such as cutting the overvalued Egyptian pound have helped the country achieve a 7 percent growth rate this year and attract $11 billion in direct foreign investment. That's up from less than $500 million three or four years ago, said Simon Kitchen, a private economist in Cairo.
"I think with Gamal, maybe, his influence is in . . . explaining or advocating the ideas of economic reform to his father because, obviously, he has that access," Kitchen said.
Gamal Mubarak and his economic engineering seem remote to many Egyptians.
Forty percent of the country's people live in poverty, according to U.S. development figures, and 80 percent are labeled low-income by the Egyptian government. Inflation, caused in part by the policy changes, has eaten away at buying power, especially for those with low salaries. Teachers, for example, generally earn much less than $100 a month.
"Gamal has never taken a bus, never stopped at a red light, never met anyone who wasn't cleared by security services," said Ibrahim Eissa, editor of Cairo's al-Dustor newspaper. The government filed criminal charges against Eissa for reporting on rumors about the president's health, but Eissa said he suspects he actually is being targeted for an article in which he alleged that first lady Suzanne Mubarak was prodding her husband to yield power to their son.
But Gamal Mubarak's pro-market economic views already have won him the support of many in the business community, said Steven A. Cook, a specialist on civilian-military relations in the Middle East and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Salah Diab, a leading businessman, praised Gamal Mubarak warmly for helping to bring new thinking to the country's economic policies. Asked about the prospect of a Gamal Mubarak presidency, Diab said, "I wouldn't mind at all." But like others here, weary of leaders who leave office only when death ushers them out, Diab said he wants Egypt's presidency limited to one or two terms.
"If he thinks he's coming to be the fourth pharaoh in a row" -- after Nasser, Sadat and Hosni Mubarak -- "I don't think that's going to be acceptable to anyone," Diab said.