Egypt's ruling party to vote Mubarak leader: official

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CAIRO: A top official in the National Democratic Party (NDP)says there is a consensus to elect President Hosni Mubarak as party chairman, quelling reports that Mubarak s son would take over, local press reported.

Zakaria Azmi, a senior NDP member and also Mubarak s chief of staff, told party members that there was a full consensus within the party to elect President Hosni Mubarak chairman during elections at this year s party conference in November, the state-owned daily Al-Akhbar reported.

It will be the first time the NDP holds an election for a party leader, a post that Mubarak has held since he came to power in 1981.

Azmi s comments appear to be aimed at reports that the election is geared towards eventually offering Mubarak s son Gamal the country s top job, after his meteoric rise within party ranks.

There is enormous political uncertainty in the country about who will succeed Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for over a quarter of a century, and speculation has regularly pointed to his son Gamal, head of the party s influential politburo.

Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif attempted to allay fears earlier this week telling Egyptians do not worry about hereditary succession because there is a government, a parliament and an organized scenario for the transfer of power in Egypt.

The 79-year-old president, who together with his entourage have been trying to dispel recent rumors of his ill health, made a lengthy public appearance Sunday, seeming relaxed and in a jovial mood as he inaugurated several water projects in southern Egypt.

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