Egypt accused of blocking weekly

Authorities have blocked distribution of the first edition of detained Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nur’s weekly in which he announces his intention to run for president, Nur’s wife said.

Nur was detained on charges of 'falsifying official documents'
Nur was detained on charges of 'falsifying official documents'

The weekly newspaper Al-Ghad (Tomorrow) “was printed but even as the copies were in the cars on their way to being distributed, they were recalled”, Gamila Ismail told AFP on Tuesday.

Nur was arrested in January on charges of “falsifying official documents” in a case that has raised concern among international human-rights groups and within the US administration.

His detention comes amid intense political upheaval in Egypt, and the 40-year-old lawyer has become for some a symbol of the movement for democratic reform.

Out on Wednesday?

Nur’s party lawyer Amir Salim said the paper had a deal with the government daily Al-Ahram for printing and distribution “but the workers there were told last night [Monday] by state security people to stop the distribution.

Mubarak has ruled Egypt for more than two decades

Mubarak has ruled Egypt for
more than two decades

“What we heard is that the newspaper has been stopped until the attorney-general reviews it,” he told AFP. “I hope it will be out tomorrow.”

A senior source at Al-Ahram denied the claims that distribution had been impeded and said that the newspaper was only due out on Wednesday in the first place.

“The newspaper will start being distributed tonight and will be on the streets on Wednesday and there was never any disruption in the process,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

Candidacy announcement

Priced at one Egyptian pound (17 US cents), the first issue focuses on presenting the members of Nur’s Al-Ghad party, which was founded in October 2004, only the third time Egypt’s state has allowed the creation of a new political party.

There are increasing demands for democratic reform in Egypt

There are increasing demands for
democratic reform in Egypt

In the first issue, Nur announces his intention to run in the presidential election later this year.

“He wrote a letter that he gave to me two days ago and that was published in the newspaper in which he said he would be a candidate in the elections,” Ismail said.

“He had been thinking about it since the constitutional amendment. Of course he knows he won’t win and the circumstances surrounding this election will be such that it will be very difficult for other candidates,” she added.

Constitution change

In late February, Mubarak, who has ruled over the country unchallenged for 23 years, proposed a constitutional amendment allowing multi-candidate presidential elections for the first time in Egypt.

The first issue of Al-Ghad sports a large headline in orange that reads: “Ayman Nur to run in presidential election from Tura prison”.

The front page also carries a large empty column signed by Nur and dated “Tura prison” as a symbol of his detention. The blank article carries wth title: “He who fears the sound of the trees never enters the forest.”

It also bears a large picture of Nur, with contact details for the campaign to release him.

Nur’s arrest on 29 January came just days after he met with visiting former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who heads a US body to promote democracy.

The 40-year-old lawyer is now seen by some as the symbol of the young guard and reform movement in Egypt, and by others as an opportunist with no genuine commitment to democratic values.

His imprisonment took on a new dimension when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chided Egypt over the move and raised the issue during a visit to Washington by Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Ghait.

Source : AFP

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