CAIRO: Head of the policies committee of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) Gamal Mubarak has accompanied his father President Hosni Mubarak to Washington for the opening of the latest round of direct peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel being brokered by the United States.
Mubarak junior’s trip to Washington has again fuelled speculation that he may succeed his father as president of the country, especially as rumors continue to persist regarding the president’s health.
The president’s health has been cause for concern since seeking treatment in Germany earlier this year. Mubarak has still not designated a clear successor in a country where the ruling party is expected to cherry pick the next president.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Gamal might meet with Israeli delegates in the peace talks, possibly including the Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.
Gamal is believed to be groomed as his father’s successor as president, something he and his father have mostly denied in the past. That hasn’t placated opposition figures who have instituted groups specifically to counter this possibility, such as the Popular Campaign Against the Inheritance of Power, a broad coalition of opposition forces which include leftists and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“It’s not necessarily true that Gamal’s visit means President Mubarak has picked him as his successor, however it does seem as an introduction to the world of foreign affairs with the presence of [US President Barack] Obama and Netanyahu,” Emad Gad from Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies told Daily News Egypt.
“This is not a specific Egypt-US meeting nor is it domestic party politics, it is foreign affairs so it seems President Mubarak has made his decision and this is part of the campaign to groom him for succession,” he added.
NDP General Secretary Safwat El-Sherif had stated recently that the President remained the party’s candidate for next year’s presidential election. Some analysts and media outlets saw this announcement as one that could have only come from the top.
But Gad disagreed, saying, “It seems El-Sherif’s comments were conjecture on his part in an attempt to bolster his own position. Taking Gamal on such a trip can only mean that President Mubarak has made a decision about his succession.”