Senior NDP official: Ben Ali different than Mubarak

Tunisia's ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali is different than Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, said Mustafa al-Fiqqi, a senior official in Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and chairman of the Arab Affairs Committee at the Shura Council, the country's upper house of parliament.

"There is a big difference between both Egypt and Tunisia, and Ben Ali is different than Mubarak, because Egypt enjoys a vast space for freedom of press and expression which is not comparable with any other Arab state," al-Fiqqi said on Monday, addressing a delegation from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an American non-profit organization close to US decision-makers.

"We are not suggesting that everything is perfect; sure there is some corruption, and the government should fight that corruption instead of covering it up," he added.

Egypt is expecting protests on Tuesday over rising prices and soaring unemployment. Observers believe the demonstrations have the potential to trigger a potential change in the country's political future.

The government has been anxious recently to appease Egyptians who are angry over climbing prices. Analysts believe the state fears repercussions from Tunisia, where four weeks of popular protests over unemployment forced president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country on 13 January after 23 years in power.

But officials have downplayed the possibility of a Tunisia-style revolt in Egypt, despite opposition assertions that Egypt experiences conditions similar to those that ignited the Tunisian uprising.

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