Egyptian President Hosni Mubaraks health has taken a serious turn for the worse, with fears that the 83-year-old is suffering from cancer, Haaretz has learned.
Mubarak made a surprise visit to Paris on Monday for meetings there with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri - but he also underwent a round of medical tests, promptiong speculation that these were the real reason for the visit.
Press photographs from both meetings that were distributed to the media do not show the Egyptian president to have any discernible signs of illness.
In March, Mubarak was hospitalized in Germany after undergoing a complicated procedure, according to officials. Both the Egyptian authorities and the heads of the German hospital declined to provide further details on the nature of the surgery.
Arab and international media outlets published numerous reports on the speculation surrounding Mubaraks condition. One such report claimed the Egyptian leader suffered from serious back trouble, while others said Mubarak was treated for a faulty gall bladder.
Mubarak was instructed to take a lengthy convalescence following his surgery. Immediately after reports surfaced about his declining health, Mubarak was quick to appear in public to assuage fears about his well-being.
London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported this week in the president's absence, his son, Gamal Mubarak, who heads the policy planning committee of Egypts ruling the National Democratic Party, has re-emerged as a prominent player on the political scene.
The Al-Quds Al-Arabi report claims Gamal Mubarak told associates in Egypt that the party needs to unveil a diplomatic platform that will gain widespread support before upcoming parliamentary elections.
Gamal Mubarak, the presidents youngest son, is considered a near shoo-in to inherit his fathers mantle in the event that the elder Mubarak does not seek another term as president. New elections are slated for next year.
Gamal Mubarak told party members yesterday that the factions ought to work to fight corruption and respect human rights, and champion these causes in the party platform.
In recent months, Egypts domestic political scene has been mulling the question of who will succeed the president, not just due to Mubaraks failing health but also because the president himself has yet to announce his intention to run in the elections.
A possible candidate for president being discussed is Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei, the former secretary-general of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. Since returning to Egypt, ElBaradei has actively recruited supporters, particularly political independents. Still, constitutional restrictions render his candidacy doubtful.
Even though the names of other senior figures in the regime have been mentioned as possibly being next in line, among them intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, the most likely scenario is that Gamal Mubarak will be designated as the presidential successor, with his fathers top aides assisting in the orderly transfer of power.
Gamal Mubarak, 47, is known to maintain excellent ties with the Egyptian business community.
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