Mubarak to seek re-election
Cairo - A senior official in Egypt's ruling party on Thursday gave the strongest signal yet that President Hosni Mubarak, 82, would seek re-election next year, saying he was the party's candidate.
Ali El Din Hillal, the National Democratic Party's media head, told Reuters the formal nomination process would not take place until a month or two before the vote, a date which has not been set although it is expected in the second half of 2011.
The looming vote has prompted speculation about whether Mubarak, in power since 1981, will seek a sixth term. If he does not, many believe his politician son Gamal, 46, could run, or possibly another candidate with a military background.
Rumours about Mubarak's health, fuelled by his gallbladder surgery in Germany in March, have added to the debate about whether he will stay in office. Since his surgery, the president has resumed a regular schedule of meetings and foreign trips.
"The NDP's candidate for the coming presidential elections is President Hosni Mubarak," Hillal said by telephone. "This is the will of all the leadership of the party."
Hillal suggested, in comments to a talk show broadcast earlier on Thursday by a US-based Arabic channel, that the election could be held in October. But he would not confirm that date when speaking to Reuters.
Analysts say rules for the election stack the vote heavily in favour of the candidate put forward by the NDP. In the 2005 vote, Egypt's first multi-candidate race, Mubarak won easily.
Liberal opposition candidate Ayman Nour, Mubarak's main challenger in 2005, came a distant second and was jailed soon after on charges he said were politically motivated.
Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said in September the constitutional process outlined a timeline for fielding candidates of three months before a vote.
Nazif said that, if Mubarak felt capable of running, the party would stand behind him. Other top party officials have said Mubarak would be the favoured choice if he decided to run.