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Ayman Nour established the al-Ghad Party in 2004 after defecting from the New Wafd in 2001 over a dispute with party leader Noman Gomaa. He had been elected to the People’s Assembly as a representative of al-Wafd in 1995. After a few months of unobstructed party activities, in January 2005 he was charged with forging thousands of membership applications in order to obtain a legal license for the party and was subsequently imprisoned. In his absence, an anti-Nour faction of al-Ghad staked a competing claim to the party’s leadership, and went so far as to nominate its own candidates in al-Ghad’s name for the 2005 parliamentary elections.
As the regime came under increasing international pressure, Nour was released from prison and allowed to participate in Egypt’s first multicandidate presidential election in September 2005. He came in second with 7.6 percent of the votes. Nevertheless, Nour returned to jail in December 2005 after he was convicted of forgery and sentenced to five years in prison. He was released in February 2009 for medical reasons.
In February 2010, Nour stated his intention to run for president in 2011. The decision divided al-Ghad, with Nour’s supporters approving him as the official candidate by democratic vote and the party’s anti-Nour wing, led by Moussa Mustafa Moussa, rejecting him. Officially, Nour is not eligible to run due to his forgery conviction, although the Supreme Constitutional Court can wave the restriction.
Ayman Nour participated actively in the protests that began on January 25, 2011. He was hospitalized on January 28 after he was struck in the head by a rock but made a full recovery. Campaigning against the proposed constitutional amendments in March 2011, Nour called for a new constitution to be written before the elections. On March 17, he announced he would run for president and a few days later that he would form a new political party using the name al-Ghad, which the courts struck down in September for being too similar in name to his old party. On October 10, however, a Cairo court reversed the early ruling and granted Nour’s al-Ghad al-Jedid Party legal recognition.