Egypt's first seriously contested presidential campaign is now underway.
In the past, Egypt's parliament selected a single candidate who was then approved or rejected by the voters. But a constitutional amendment led to a change in the procedure. This time, Egyptian voters will have a choice of ten different candidates. They include President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981. His main challenger is Ayman Nour, a lawyer and leader of the pro-democracy Ghad, or Party of Tomorrow.
Mr. Nour sent a message to his supporters saying, "Change is the battle of a generation. Change is the hope of every generation. On September 7th," said Mr. Nour, "cast your ballot for Ghad." Another challenger is Noman Gomaa, a former academic and leader of one of Egypt’s oldest political parties, the Wafd party, which has been active since 1919.
According to the Reuters news service, representatives of a new independent civil monitoring group, Shayfeencom, [which means] "We Can See You," told a news conference "it would monitor the state media carefully for biased coverage."
Some Egyptians remain skeptical about the voting process. "Nobody knows anything about the elections," Nadia Gamal Mabrouk, a student in the Nile Delta, told a reporter. "Some people," she says, "are afraid of change and think: better the devil you know."
President George W. Bush says that the United States will continue to urge Egypt and other countries to open up their political systems:
"While our expectations must be realistic, our ideals must be firm and they must be clear. We must expect higher standards from our friends and partners in the Middle East."
Mr. Bush says, "The great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East." Anncr:
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.