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The New Arab

Same faces reemerge in Egypt's new regime

Egyptians continue to face the same ruthless crackdown by Egyptian police [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 January, 2016

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Five years after Egyptians overthrew President Hosni Mubarak's regime, former officials are escaping jail and reappearing in public life, taking leading positions of power once again.

It only took a few words for the judge presiding over Egypt's "trial of the century" to clear former President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons.

The judge's decision also became an ominous sign for supporters of the Egyptian revolution that the old regime was remerging in a different form, and the same faces held power five years after Mubarak was overthrown.

At the same hearing, former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six police officials were also cleared of charges relating to the killing of protesters during demonstrations against the regime in Cairo's Tahrir Square in 2011.

Same faces

From 2013 onwards - but particularly over the last year - more and more Mubarak-era officials have been cleared of alleged crimes committed before and during the 2011 revolution.

It has led many analysts to believe that the new government under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is becoming a mirror of the Mubarak regime, and guilty of the same vices, if not worse.

That is why many predict that the current regime will meet the same outcome as Mubarak's once mass opposition materialises.

"The current political regime is repeating the same old mistakes which led to the uprising of 25 January," an analyst at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, who wished to remain unnamed, told The New Arab.

"The current repression is worse than it was under Mubarak's regime and the state of the economy is not promising either. These issues will inevitably led to the fall of the existing regime," he added.

Some - big names in Mubarak-era politics and business - have even returned to government posts such as Ibrahim Mahlab, the former chief of a construction company with close ties to the Mubarak family.

Mahlab was also a senior official in Mubarak's National Democratic Party, which dominated the country.

Following the revolution, Mahlab faced corruption charges relating to renovation work carried out at the presidential palace during Mubarak's rule. 

Nonetheless, Mahlab's career has seen a major turnaround.

From March 2014 until September 2015, Mahlab stood as Egypt's prime minister and only resigned after Sisi found the performance of his cabinet "unsatisfying".

But Mahlab was not completely overlooked by the president, and was given the role of Sisi's assistant in national affairs.

Ruling again

Ali al-Meselhy was part of policy secretariat for Mubarak's ruling party and minister of social solidarity under Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif's government from 2004 until Mubarak dismissed the cabinet in 2011, following mass protests.

Meselhy was well entrenched in the regime and accused of being personally involved in rigging the 2005 and 2010 parliamentary elections.

Despite being recognised as a remnant of Mubarak's power structure, Meselhy became chairman of the economic committee in Egypt's parliament following the revolution.

He also ran for elections for elections in 2012, competing against and losing to Mohamed Fayed, a Muslim Brotherhood candidate.

Yet the former Mubarak-era minister has now returned, gaining a seat in the new council of representatives.

Unhappiness with the 2010 Egyptian election was said to be a major factor behind the 2011 revolution.

Accusations of vote rigging, cronyism and corruption by members of that parliament contributed to the public outcry against the Mubarak regime a year after its inauguration.

Two former MPs "elected" during 2010 voting also made comebacks recently. Mahmoud al-Sharif is the first deputy speaker of the parliament, while Suleiman Wahdan is the second deputy speaker, two of the most important positions in parliament.

Most ominously for Egyptian activists and revolutionaries is that many of officials in one of the Mubarak's most hated branches of government - the ministry of interior - have also returned.

Mohammed al-Dali was a former police general who served as head of the Giza security directorate. Today, he is the city's governor.

Magdy Hegazy, a former military general who once served as deputy defence minister, is the governor in Aswan.

Khalid Saied, a former military general who held numerous field posts in the Egyptian army in the Mubarak-era, presides over Egypt's Sharqiyah region.

Despite the officials returning to power and prominance, they might understand that they could lose it all in an instance if the people rise up again, as they did in 2011.

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