Official says President Mubarak to seek new term

A top Egyptian ruling party official has said 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak will seek a new term in next year`s elections despite widespread speculation that he might step down and allow his son to run in his place.

Cairo: A top Egyptian ruling party
official has said 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak will
seek a new term in next year`s elections despite widespread
speculation that he might step down and allow his son to run
in his place.

The official, Alieddin Hilal, was the latest of
several senior figures from the National Democratic Party to
suggest Mubarak intended to stay in the office he has held for
nearly 30 years.

However, the statements by party officials are not the
final word with Mubarak himself maintaining a public silence
on his intentions.

"The next president is President Hosni Mubarak," Hilal
told US-funded Alhurra television in an interview, according
to excerpts released today. "The candidate of the party come
next August or September will be President Hosni Mubarak,"
added Hilal, who often acts as the ruling party`s spokesman.

Speculation over Mubarak`s future has intensified
since he underwent surgery earlier this year in Germany to
remove his gall bladder and a benign growth in the lining of
his small intestine.

He has, however, sought to dispel that speculation
with busy work schedules that state media have covered in
detail. He recently suggested he would stay in office as long
as he is alive.

Mubarak is widely thought to be grooming his 46-year-
old son Gamal to eventually succeed him. He has also stayed
silent on the future of Gamal, who over the past decade has
risen through the ranks of the ruling party to become one of
its top leaders.

Mubarak never appointed a vice president, further
complicating the question of who will succeed him. He was
Anwar Sadat`s vice president when the late president was
gunned down by Muslim militants during a military parade in
Cairo in 1981. He then became president and has held the
office ever since.

Mubarak had ruled Egypt unchallenged until 2005 when
multiple candidates were allowed to run for president.

However, requirements severely limit who can run in next
year`s vote, making a landslide win for the ruling party
candidate a virtually foregone conclusion.

PTI

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