Party official: Egypt’s Mubarak to run in election

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CAIRO | A top ruling party official has given the strongest indication to date that Egypt’s 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak will seek another six-year term of office in elections next year despite recent health troubles and speculation he’s grooming his son for power.

Mr. Mubarak, who with nearly 30 years in office is already Egypt’s longest serving ruler in nearly two centuries, would be almost 90 if he serves another full term. His health has been the subject of intense speculation after he had surgery this year to remove his gall bladder and a benign growth in the lining of his small intestine.

Mr. Mubarak, a former air force pilot and a close U.S. ally, has since sought to dispel speculation, with a busy work schedule, including foreign travel, strenuous field visits and meetings with visiting dignitaries — all covered extensively by state media. He has looked relatively fit, despite significant weight loss after his operation in Germany seven months ago.

The comments by Alieddin Hilal of the National Democratic Party do not constitute the final word on Mr. Mubarak’s plans. But Mr. Hilal is the latest of several top party figures to indicate Mr. Mubarak intends to run.

“The next president is President Hosni Mubarak,” Mr. Hilal, who often acts as the party’s spokesman, said in an interview with the U.S.-funded Alhurra television.

“The candidate of the party, come next August or September, will be President Hosni Mubarak,” he said, according to excerpts of the interview released by Alhurra on Thursday.

Mr. Mubarak himself has stayed publicly silent on his intentions.

Many in Egypt believe he is grooming his son, Gamal, to eventually succeed him. That has raised the possibility he might choose not to run next year, opening the candidacy for the 46-year-old Gamal, who has over the past decade rapidly risen through the ranks of the party to become one of its top leaders.

Hosni Mubarak never appointed a vice president, further complicating the question of who will succeed him. He was Anwar Sadat’s vice president when the leader 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.

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