Egypt’s Mubarak has operation in Germany

Egypt’s Mubarak has operation in Germany

CAIRO: Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif found himself in power temporarily on Saturday as President Hosni Mubarak has gall-bladder surgery in Germany, the country’s state-run media reported. It comes as worries over the aging leader’s health continue to be of concern for the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

The report, published by the official MENA news agency, did not give details of the severity of the surgery.

Mubarak, 81, has been president of Egypt since taking over power following the assassination of Anwar el-Sadat in 1981.

He was diagnosed on Friday in Heidelberg and doctors said he needed surgery.

Back in Egypt, opposition activists and leaders have repeatedly called on Mubarak to step down due to his deteriorating health, but the uncertainty over a successor has made the government apprehensive.

Independent newspapers who publish information related to the president’s health have found themselves embattled in court cases as the government guards Mubarak’s health situation with much care.

In June last year, when American President Barack Obama visited Cairo, the Egyptian leader’s health was in a precarious position, reports said, but since that visit, the 81-year-old has been seen looking robust and healthy.

On Thursday, Mubarak looked strong in a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and had energy to publicly criticize Mohamed ElBaradei – the former IAEA chief who has become the oppositions champion – in comments to reporters following the press conference.

Most observers believe the elder Mubarak is grooming his 46-year-old son, Gamal, to become the country’s next president, despite widespread opposition to succession of power in this manner.