Presidential Powers are in the Process of Transfer

Photos and videos of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, 82, sitting up in his Munich hospital bed and conversing with his doctors were released on March 17, after successful surgery for removing his gall bladder was announced. They put to rest some of the wilder rumors going around in Cairo about his condition.
Two days earlier, at least one blogger and Egyptian opposition circles had reported the president had died, sending the Cairo stock exchange into a tailspin.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's intelligence sources reveal that what the German hospital had actually treated him for was cancer of the esophagus, the muscular tube through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach. They do not disclose how far the cancer has advanced, but his chances of recovery are not too high given his age and the fact that for some years now he has not been in robust health, usually working no more than two or three hours a day.
No one expects the veteran president to put in an appearance at the next Arab summit which opens in the Libyan town of Sirte on March 28. It is also taken for granted in Cairo that he will not make a run for a fifth term as president in next year's election. Parliament is expected to nominate the candidate to succeed him before the end of the year, although several movements are demanding constitutional reform requiring several candidates to face the voter without the parliamentary filter.

Gemal must hurry to establish his candidacy

Our Middle East sources report that the political and military establishments associated with the ruling National Democratic Party – NPD had by the winter of 2009 completed all the arrangements for the orderly transition of the ailing president's powers to his son, Gemal (Jimmy) Mubarak, 52, who holds the post of General Secretary of the NPD's Policy Committee.
But his father's serious illness confronts him with immediate challenges: He must start accumulating executive powers at a faster rate and consolidate his position sufficiently for his candidacy to become a foregone conclusion when parliament makes its nomination this year And, second, he must decide whether to open the voting up to international monitors, or stick with the safe procedures bequeathed by his father and his predecessors.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly now reports from its Washington sources the information just reaching the administration that the final deal with the army has been updated to name Ahmad Shafiq, former Air Force commander and Civil Aviation minister, as future President Gemal Mubarak's Vice President.
Shafiq's instructor as a young flying course cadet was Hosni Mubarak, himself an ex-pilot and past Air force Chief.
As for Mubarak Junior's second challenge, not too long ago, he said the issue of election observers "is governed by the law and the constitution which made it possible for civil society organizations to monitor the elections.
But with the crunch unexpectedly close, he must be sure where he stands. Leading the NDP to victory in a transparent process under the eye of international monitors would set him more firmly in the saddle than the conservative way and is therefore an option well worth his and his supporters' while to consider seriously.
In mid-2009, the incumbent had the foresight to place Gemal directly in line for the succession by repudiating a former deal he had with the heads of the army and intelligence for Gen. Omar Suleiman, intelligence minister and trusted aide, to serve as caretaker president for one term until Mubarak's son was ready to pick up the reins.
Now, Jimmy finds himself comfortably on track for the presidential palace.

ElBaradei may give up challenge and join ruling party

Gemal is not particularly worried by the challenge of Mohammad ElBaradei who, shortly after ending his tenure as director of the International Atomic Energy Agency this year, threw his hat in the ring declaring: "Elections must be under the full supervision of the judiciary… and the presence of international observers from the United Nations to ensure transparency."
He thereupon formed a new movement for constitutional change with himself running for the presidency at its head.
The former IAEA director quickly appreciated that, with Egypt's army and security machinery solidly behind the ruling party, he could not hope to win an election. So he turned his attention to seeking a niche for himself inside accredited parties, including even the NPD, and fighting for change from there.
The elder Mubarak's illness puts ElBaradai under pressure to decide how he wants to enter Egyptian politics.
His record at the head of the nuclear watchdog agency, most of it anti-American, and his character indicate he will prefer to stay out of the jungle of Egyptian domestic politics and go with the ruling party. He may offer to support Gemal Mubarak's candidacy if he is suitably rewarded with high office in the next administration in Cairo and a position of influence in domestic and external policy-making.
The president's son does not expect much opposition from any other quarters either. The Muslim Brotherhood holds one-fifth of the parliamentary seats, but is officially banned and forbidden to elect its own candidate for president. The group could in theory run on an independent slate, but its candidates would then be required by Egyptian law to gain the endorsement of 65 elected members of the Lower House, 25 of the Upper House and 140 local council members – a prohibitive mission. The Brotherhood is therefore sticking with the safe option of avoiding elections for the time being.
The progressive opposition leader Ayman Nour faces the same high wall in seeking election, although he has began a new door-to-door campaign.

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