Egypt's Mubarak Underlines His Hold On Power

26 Dec

CAIRO: President Hosni Mubarak presented himself on Saturday to his party conference as a man firmly in charge of both party and government less than a year before Egypt's presidential election.

Mubarak, who has not yet said whether he will stand for re-election in 2011, addressed the annual conference of the ruling National Democratic Party after it won a sweeping electoral victory in a poll boycotted by the opposition.

The 82-year-old president spoke of the NDP's “great responsibility” after the legislative election, which saw it clinch control of four-fifths of the new parliament, securing 420 of 508 seats, in governing over the next five years.

“Within this context, I set out the missions and exact functions incumbent upon the party, the government and the parliamentary bloc” of the NPD, said Mubarak, who has been in power for 29 years.

He made no reference in his speech to the presidential election set for next autumn, although those close to the president have indicated he is ready to stand for a sixth term.

It is widely believed within Egypt that Mubarak wants to pass on the baton to his 47-year-old son Gamal, a banker who has been pushing for liberal economic reforms.

However, a secret diplomatic cable published on the WikiLeaks website said the American embassy in Cairo reported that Mubarak is likely to seek re-election and serve for the rest of his life.

Mubarak remained standing as he delivered his half-hour speech on Saturday, and showed no apparent signs of fatigue.

In March, he underwent surgery in Germany to remove his gall bladder and a growth on the small intestine, an operation that relaunched speculation on the presidential succession.

“From today we must work to implement the party's policies. I ask the government to come up with a plan for a precise calendar that I will follow to the letter,” Mubarak said on Saturday.

“I will call to account those officials who do not adhere to this calendar,” he said.

He indicated his willingness to pursue economic reform, and reminded party members of his aim to raise annual growth levels from the current six per cent to eight per cent within five years.

– AFP/fa

Channel News Asia

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