Egyptian authorities block opposition newspaper


Egyptian authorities blocked distribution of the first issue of the newspaper of the opposition Ghad (Tomorrow) Party in which its leader announced he would run for the presidency, his wife said on Tuesday.

Al-Ghad newspaper, which was printed and ready to hit the streets on Monday night, had a front-page story announcing that detained politician Ayman Nour would seek the party's nomination in Egypt's presidential elections later this year.

"Today authorities stopped distribution ... because in the first four pages Nour announced his intention to run for the presidency," said Nour's wife Gamila Ismail.

"I heard that the Ministry of Interior decided to stop further printing of the newspaper and I still don't know the grounds this decision was based on," she told Reuters.

Newspaper sellers had said they expected it to come out with the first editions of the big state newspapers on Monday evening and did not know why it did not turn up.

A spokesman at the Interior Ministry said he had no information about the case.

An official from state-controlled publishers Al-Ahram said the firm was responsible for printing the Ghad newspaper and denied their were any problems with its distribution.

"According to the contract between the two sides (the publisher and Ghad Party), distribution of the newspaper will start on Tuesday night. There was no violation of the contract," said the official who did not want to be named.

Nour was stripped of his parliamentary immunity and detained in January for questioning over allegations that his party submitted forged documents when it applied for recognition last year. His party has dismissed the accusations as fabricated for political reasons.

After international interest in the Nour case, President Hosni Mubarak surprised the country last month by announcing he was willing to change the constitution to allow multi-candidate elections for the presidency.

But many opposition politicians say they expect Mubarak's ruling party to impose rules so strict that no opponent would have a serious chance of defeating the favourite.