By Nir Boms and Aaron Mannes
With international attention focused on the Palestinian and Iraqi elections, the October presidential referendum in Egypt will be little more than a re-inauguration for President Hosni Mubarak, who seeks to regain the presidency for the fifth time and to pave the way for his son Gamal to succeed him. Yet, this time Mr. Mubarak could face a real challenger. “If given the chance, I personally want to run to break the barrier of fear and intimidation,” Professor Saad al-Din Ibrahim, perhaps the Arab world’s leading voice for democracy and human rights, stated. “Not that I have real hopes of success, but I want to show my fellow Egyptians that nothing should be a political taboo.” An open political contest in the largest Arab nation would be an enormous advance for democracy in the Middle East. But Mr. Ibrahim will probably not get this chance, because under the Egyptian constitution the parliament nominates the sole candidate and the citizens can only approve by voting either “yes” or “no”.