CAIRO — Former president Hosni Mubarak’s political party was ordered disbanded Saturday by an Egyptian court, in a concession to protesters who have increasingly questioned whether the revolution that toppled Mubarak more than two months ago brought about major change.
The ruling was the capstone to an extraordinary week that also saw the detention and interrogation of Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, over their financial dealings and the killings of protesters in January and February. The trio’s detention had been another key demand of the tens of thousands of protesters who turned out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square earlier this month, outraged that the Mubarak family was apparently living comfortably in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, albeit under orders to stay in Egypt.
Gamal and Alaa Mubarak were taken to Tora Prison on the outskirts of Cairo last week. Hosni Mubarak has been moved to a military hospital near the capital, according to the state-owned al-Ahram newspaper, and a government spokesman said in a statement that he will be moved to a prison once his health improves.
The National Democratic Party (NDP), which was founded in 1978 by Anwar Sadat, Mubarak’s predecessor, has dominated Egyptian political life for more than 30 years, and the burned-out shell of its headquarters still towers between the Nile and Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. Earlier this week, Talaat Sadat, the former president’s nephew, was appointed head of the party.
Critics, including many of the protesters who led the movement to topple Mubarak, had said that the party has no place in a new Egypt.
Until the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling Saturday, the NDP and the Muslim Brotherhood had been the two most potent organized political forces in the country. The ruling also requires the party’s “money, headquarters and buildings to be seized and handed over to the government,” a statement on the cabinet’s Facebook page said. It was unclear whether the organization’s intangible assets — its ability to get out the vote and to field candidates around the country — would survive under a new name.
Few Egyptian political parties are strong enough yet to mount a credible campaign for the presidency or parliamentary seats, analysts say. Protesters have also called for NDP members to be banned from running in parliamentary elections scheduled for September, an issue the court ruling did not address.
Last week, Egypt’s government nominated a former NDP member to become secretary general of the Arab League. The nomination of Mustafa el-Fiqqi, a former assistant to Mubarak, had drawn condemnation from the protesters who brought about Mubarak’s downfall. Fiqqi resigned from the party after Mubarak left office Febuary 11.
Special correspondents Muhammad Mansour and Sherine Bayoumi contributed to this report.