Mubarak tells investors not to worry about Egypt’s leadership matters

Hosni Mubarak of Egypt

Egypt’s prime minister urged investors on Wednesday not to fret about the leadership and not to expect a decision soon from President Hosni Mubarak, 82, on whether he will run for office again in next year’s election.

Officials have been seeking to allay concerns about what happens if Mubarak, who has ruled since 1981, does not run. If he does not, most Egyptians expect he will be succeeded by his son, whose cabinet allies were behind economic liberalisation.

Although the issue has created uncertainty, analysts say it is not yet enough, for now, to outweigh the attractions of a market growing at more than 5 percent a year when the picture in other global markets is less rosy.

“We have a constitutional process that says when the parties will field candidates, and this is three months before the elections,” Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said.

No date has been set for the 2011 presidential vote, which will be governed by rules that analysts say stack odds in favour of the candidate fielded by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). The government insists elections are free and fair.

“If he (Mubarak) feels capable of running for another term then we will all stand behind him. He is the leader of the NDP and we should wait for his decision before thinking of any other alternative — not to say that there aren’t any other alternatives,” Nazif said, without naming other possibilities.

“I don’t see a reason to hurry or a reason to worry,” he said when asked at a business conference in Cairo about concerns that investor worries could hurt foreign inflows.

Rumours concerning Mubarak’s health have increased since he had gallbladder surgery in March. Officials say the president is healthy.

Approaching elections have stirred debate about whether 46-year-old Gamal Mubarak, a former investment banker, will succeed his father and whether he has the public popularity to win over the military and key parts of the establishment.

There have also been hints at rifts in the establishment about whether he is up to the job, even if he is widely tipped as the most likely contender to be the next president.
Source: Reuters

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