My dear Hosni Mubarak,
I know that this advice comes too late for you and you have fled from your presidency now, but I thought I should still write to you even if it is only to tell you where you went wrong.
Having ruled for thirty long years Mubarak, you should have known how to set up things to avoid getting booted out of office. After all, you had enough time to prepare yourself and you seem to have tried to do so-but in the wrong manner.
Thinking back now, I believe the mistake you did was to try and ban most of the major opposition parties. Then, everyone says you are being undemocratic and even though you won eighty eight per cent of the votes at the last election, they call the elections a sham.
There are better ways to deal with elections, Mubarak. You must always allow the major opposition parties to contest, but then you must also ensure the leading figures in the opposition are fighting among themselves. That way, they will always be bickering with each other and at the end of the day while you would have still won, people will also say they had a free and fair election!
When you had elections to the legislature, what you again did was to prevent most opposition parties from contesting and intimidating those who dared to contest. Again, people accuse you of sabotaging the poll and say you are not being fair.
What you should have done instead Mubarak, was to let all those opposition fellows contest, have a fair election and allow them to get elected. Thereafter, you could have invited them for tea (or even coffee!), had a chat with them and offered to write off their business loans or drop some court cases pending against them. Then these chaps will begin to say although they remain elected from the opposition they have been so impressed with your plans to make Egypt the miracle of the Middle East that they have decided to support you to ‘strengthen your hands’!
The opposition parties would have then tried to expel these chaps but you could have remedied that by getting a friendly judge to give a ruling stating that all such ‘crossovers’ are legal. After that, you could have got an overwhelming majority in Parliament and tinkered with the Constitution in such a way that whatever you did became legal and above board!
Of course, there are other tricks. I know you used the state media and other government resources blatantly during elections. Then when you win people say you cheated. To avoid that you should have found a good Commissioner of Elections-someone who bends over backwards to please you . I know it is difficult to find such people but when you do, you must never let them retire!
There were also other ways and means to retain your popularity when you plan to rule for long periods, Mubarak. Every now and then you must rave and rant against America, Britain or the United Nations. Of course they will hate you for that but within Egypt you would have then been hailed as the man who stood up to the western imperialists and their agents…
The other mistake you did was to allow the military to enjoy too much power and influence over the affairs of the country. That is always a dangerous trend Mubarak, and the best way to attend to that is to pick on the most ambitious General and deal with him. The others in the military then automatically fall in line and say ‘yes,’ to anything you say thereafter…
I am also told you tried to have your son succeed you and that is one of the reasons the people turned against you. That is not a bad idea Mubarak, but there are better ways to do that and it is indeed a pity you didn’t have a few family members who you could have appointed to key positions. If that was done everyone would have worried about them and hardly noticed your son!
As for the general public Mubarak, you could have always won them over to your side with the offer of a substantial pay hike. Now I know it may not be possible to grant such wage increases but all you have to say then is you never promised a pay hike at once and that it will be given in instalments over the next few years or so…You should have also ensured the people never forgot you are indeed the leader of the country and no one else really matters. The best way of doing this is to have hoardings with your smiling picture at every junction-or even have an airline called Mubarakair!
And then if after all this, people start to blame you for a stagnating economy and difficult living conditions you should have picked on natural disaster and blamed that for the country’s problems.
I know Mubarak, all this advice comes to you a little bit too late. There is little that can be done now except maybe leave on a ‘private visit’ to a country which is still willing to accommodate you. So, best of luck!
PS-Just in case you are wondering what you would do in your retirement the best option would be to stay away from Egypt as much as possible. That way, you could avoid the embarrassment of your successors blaming you for everything and the courts overturnng every decision that you took…