NYT reported Arab eaders are not generally known for being accountable to the public, and do not often make an effort to explain their actions. So why was Ahmed Nazif, Egypt's prime minister, sitting beneath the vaulted ceiling of his office inside an old palace in Cairo, chatting amiably about what ails his country: the moribund economy, the recent terrorist attacks, the bloated public work force. Why was he willing, even eager, to admit mistakes? Those questions touch on what is happening in Egypt. The government says it is trying to wake itself and its people from a slumber of decades that has atrophied the economy and the society, and, to a large extent, Mr. Nazif has been given the job of convincing the outside world, especially the West, that President Hosni Mubarak is serious about moving toward democracy and a market economy.
I hope he is"Evolution!" declared Mr. Nazif, a tall and lanky man who was named prime minister 13 months ago, when asked why Egypt is suddenly talking about political and economic reform.
As opposed to Intelligent Design???Indeed, Sunday is the last day of campaigning in Egypt's first multicandidate presidential elections. "We cannot also ignore the fact that any country the size of Egypt has a momentum, and if a country is going in one direction you cannot just switch back," Mr. Nazif said, trying to explain Mr. Mubarak's incremental approach to change. "It is like a car," he said. "You cannot switch gears to reverse while you are going forward. You have to slow down first, stop and then back up and go in another direction. That has happened. We have now changed directions. What remains is a faster pace."
He may want to move slowly, but I suspect once his citizens see what it is like to vote for their leaders, they are going to press on the car's accelerator pedal.