Prominent Egyptian political activist and first post-revolution female presidential hopeful Bothaina Kamel said that her intention to run stems from her keenness to achieve the goals of the revolution and continue her country’s struggle for freedom and democracy.
“My calculations for electoral gain and loss are different from those of other potential presidential candidates,” she told the UAE newspaper Emarat al-Youm Monday.
Kamel explained that victory for her is not defined in terms of how many votes she gets, but rather by the achievement of social justice, one of the main goals of the January 25 revolution and a priority for her since the start of her activism several years ago.
“My victory in the elections should be seen as another step on the road to change which started with civil society efforts then developed into a revolution.”
Kamel likened her intention to stand for president to the launch of the Egyptian Movement for Change, commonly known as Kefaya (Arabic for “enough”) in 2000.
“The movement aimed at ending the prevalent state of political stagnation and inviting all Egyptians to take parting determining the destiny of their country.”
This, she added, was especially true for the marginalized who were never given the chance to be part of the political scene in Egypt owing to the hegemony of the same factions for decades and which still persist even after the revolution.
“While Islamists, remnants of the former regime, businessmen, and the military are vying for power, I will represent the marginalized in Egyptian society.”
By marginalized Kamel said she meant women and the poor as well as residents of neglected areas of Egypt like the Siwa Oasis, Nubia, Upper Egypt, and the Sinai Peninsula.
Kamel admitted to choosing a confrontational approach when dealing with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the de facto ruler of Egypt, and justified this by the council’s failure to manage the transitional period.
“Throughout the transitional period, the military council has been trying to thwart the revolutionaries and incite Egyptians against the revolution.”
Kamel pointed out that her priority is to deal with the source of the problem and not the ramifications and that the source in this case is the military council.
“Who dragged us into all this? Who opened the door for the remnants of the former regime to come back? Who delayed the purging of the judiciary, the media, and government institutions? Who killed the revolutionaries? Who refused to restructure the police and helped in making the security situation much worse? The military council did all this. I am not only calling upon them to step down, but I also want them tried.”
Regarding her relationship with Islamist powers that secured a sweeping victory in the post-revolution parliamentary elections, Kamel said she contacted the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Salafi al-Nour Party asking them to support her in the presidential elections.
“I have not received a final response till now, but I learned from mediators that members the Freedom and Justice Party said they don’t mind and that they are studying the issue.”
Kamel said she is not against the idea of reaching some kind of deal that makes her vice-president instead of president.
“Everything is possible but there are four potential presidential candidates I will not strike such a deal with.”
The four candidates, she explained, are former minister of civil aviation and Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, former head of intelligence and vice-president Omar Suleiman, former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, and Islamist thinker Mohamed Salim al-Awwa.
Kamel said that Abdel Moneim Aboul Fottouh, former Muslim Brotherhood member, is one of the potential presidential candidates she respects, yet she is not sure whether she can be his vice-president.
“His political platform deserves respect and he is one of the prominent voices of resistance, yet I have apprehensions about him and I will decide after I see more of his stances.”
Kamel admitted that it is difficult for her win the elections in the current conditions, but stressed that she aims at changing these conditions first.
“The battle consists of a series of struggles in which the street, revolutionary media and coalitions, and political dynamism are the main players.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)