The NDP’s eighth congress ended on 17 September with the appointment of Information Minister Safwat el-Sharif as the new secretary-general. Cabinet Affairs Minister Kamal el-Shazly remains as assistant secretary-general, and Gamal Mubarak has been accorded the third most senior post, as secretary-general for policy. He was first appointed to the party’s general secretariat in 2000, in a reshuffle of senior posts enacted ahead of the parliamentary elections at the end of that year.

The most notable exit from the higher echelons of the party was that of First Deputy Prime Minister, Agriculture & Land Reform Minister Youssef Wali, who lost the position of secretary-general that he has held since 1985. Wali’s political standing has taken a battering in recent weeks because of the exposure of a corruption scandal involving senior figures in his ministry. He has been given the largely honorific title of NDP deputy chairman for internal affairs. Another old stalwart, Mustafa Khalil, was appointed deputy chairman for external affairs. President Mubarak is the party chairman.

Analysts say the make-up of the 25-member general secretariat of the party reflects the increased influence of the reformist tendency, even though old guard figures El-Sharif and El-Shazly still maintain overall control.

Much of the congress was devoted to internal organisation. Gamal Mubarak has been involved in getting the grassroots membership of the party more involved in policy-making. He has also been closely involved in efforts to make the party adhere more explicitly to free market policies. The main changes approved at the congress included allowing delegates to elect the members of the secretariat, and providing for annual meetings of the party, with a full congress every five years.