Sunday, February 22, 2009

Released After 3 Years Imprisonment - Ayman Nour ( REUTERS-FactBox)

FACTBOX - Facts about Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour

Wed Feb 18, 2009
(Reuters) - Egyptian authorities freed opposition politician Ayman Nour on Wednesday after more than three years of imprisonment on forgery charges he said were politically motivated.

Here are some facts about him:

* Nour was the most successful rival to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the presidential elections of September 2005, the first with multiple candidates. He won 8 percent of the vote against Mubarak's 89 percent in an election which observers said was seriously flawed.

* His case has been an irritant in relations between Egypt and the United States for years, arising during most visits by senior U.S. officials. But in the last years of former U.S. President George W. Bush, the level of U.S. pressure declined.

* At the time of the 2005 election he already faced charges that he submitted forged documents when he set up his liberal Ghad (Tomorrow) Party in 2004. Nour and his supporters said the authorities fabricated the case against him to eliminate Nour as a rival to Mubarak's son Gamal, who is about the same age.

* In his years in prison Nour has suffered from diabetes and heart problems. But the courts rejected all his attempts to secure early release on health grounds.

* Nour, a feisty lawyer who is now 44, began his political life in the liberal Wafd Party, which had dominated Egyptian politics before army officers took power in 1952. But he fell out with his Wafd colleagues and rapidly created what briefly become the largest opposition party in parliament.

* In his absence the Ghad Party has become a shadow of what it once was. An anti-Nour splinter group has harassed the Nour loyalists and two suspicious fires have damaged Ghad property including one that gutted Nour's private central Cairo office.

* Nour had one of the most liberal agendas of any prominent Egyptian politician. He advocated removing all restrictions on forming political parties and publishing newspapers, direct elections for many offices, and a single "civil status" law for marriage, divorce and inheritance in place of the current separate laws for Muslims and Christians.

(Writing by Jonathan Wright; Editing by Charles Dick)

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