Accessibility links

Economic Reforms Highlighted as Egypt's Ruling Party Conference Ends - 2004-09-23

On the third and final day of the ruling National Democratic Party conference in Cairo, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak emphasized economic liberalization and several dramatic new economic reforms, but didn't address the demands of opposition groups.

President Mubarak says the private sector has to play a leading role in Egypt's economic development.

The president says a reform of taxes and customs are needed to boost the private sector, increase investment and create new job opportunities. He said the reform will also alleviate the financial burdens on the average Egyptian citizen and lead to greater social justice.

The president called on private companies to support the government's reform program, and said that the energy, transportation and communication industries were going to be opened to the private sector.

President Mubarak also said the participation of young Egyptians would be an important part of the party's reform plans.

The National Democratic Party has become much more dependant on the abilities of young people, he said, and is enacting policies to push the most qualified of them to positions of responsibility within the government and the party.

Gamal Mubarak, the son of the president and the 41-year-old head of the ruling party's Policies Committtee, led discussions on several key economic reform initiatives. The young Mubarak's high profile led to renewed speculation that he is being groomed to replace his father. But during a press conference a few hours before his father's speech, Mr. Mubarak once again denied that there are any plans for a presidential succession.

Opposition groups have called for the National Democratic Party, which controls over four-fifths of the seats in parliament and of which President Mubarak is also the head, to amend the Constitution to allow for multi-candidate elections and to end the country's 23-year state of emergency.

Emergency law prohibits demonstrations and allows for special state security courts, renewable detentions with no charges, and the confiscation of publications and communications.

The ruling party conference did not address these requests, saying they were not among its priorities. President Mubarak said in his speech that Egypt needed to deepen the foundations of democracy, and that opposition parties would be included in a dialogue on the proposed reforms.