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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 March, 2005, 13:37 GMT
Egypt opposition paper comes out
An Egyptian man reads the first edition of al-Ghad in Cairo
The first issue outlines Nour's plan to stand in presidential elections
A weekly newspaper issued by a jailed Egyptian party leader has appeared at news stands for the first time.

In the inaugural edition, Ayman Nour announces his plans to run in the country's first multi-candidate presidential election later this year.

Reports from Cairo say the sale of al-Ghad (Tomorrow) was delayed by one day while officials demanded changes.

Mr Nour has been held in custody since January accused of forging documents to launch his party.

Last month President Hosni Mubarak, ruler for 23 years, agreed to hold a multi-candidate vote amid pressure for reform.

'Fabricated claims'

The 40-year-old lawyer was arrested in late January over allegations he forged documents used to secure legal status for his Party of Tomorrow, formed last autumn.

Mr Nour denies the claims, which his supporters describe as fabricated for political reasons.

Of course he knows he won't win and the circumstances surrounding this election will be such that it will be very difficult for other candidates
Gamila Ismail
Wife of Ayman Nour

The US and international human rights groups have expressed concern about his continued detention.

Al-Ghad's first edition reports that Mr Nour, who chairs the paper's board of directors, asked the party to nominate him as its candidate in the presidential election.

A full-page article is devoted to the constitutional amendment brought in by Mr Mubarak in late February, which allows more than one candidate to stand for the first time.

The paper says opposition parties would find it difficult to present a competitive candidate "as a result of living for nearly 25 years under emergency laws".

'Copies recalled'

The newspaper's publication is likely to be seen as a test of Mr Mubarak's new commitment to open elections.

A senior newspaper official said security officials had demanded a complete rewrite of the front page but eventually backed down and allowed the edition to go out unaltered, Reuters news agency reports.

Ayman Nour gives a V-sign from a police vehicle taking him from a Cairo court
Human rights groups are concerned by Nour's continued detention

Mr Nour's wife Gamila Ismail told the AFP news agency on Tuesday that the paper "was printed but even as the copies were in the cars on their way to being distributed, they were recalled".

She said her husband had been thinking about standing as a candidate since the constitutional amendment was passed.

"Of course he knows he won't win and the circumstances surrounding this election will be such that it will be very difficult for other candidates," she said.

A senior source at the government daily al-Ahram, with which al-Ghad had a deal for printing and distribution, denied the claims that distribution had been impeded, telling AFP the paper was only due out on Wednesday in the first place.

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Country profile: Egypt
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