Mubarak in Germany for operation

The Egyptian President has arrived in the German city of Munich to have an operation for a slipped disc.

    There has been much speculation over Mubarak's health

    Husni Mubarak has delegated power to his prime minister during his absence.

    During the operation on Monday, surgeons will insert a

    microscopic endoscope in Mubarak's lower back to remove

    displaced cartilage, doctors said on Saturday.

    It is normally a simple procedure but it follows persistent

    rumours about the health of the 76-year-old Egyptian president,

    who has ruled the Arab world's most populous country since 1981.

    During previous trips abroad, it has been normal practice

    for him to delegate some of his powers temporarily to a senior

    official, usually the prime minister, officials said.

    Rumours

    But Mubarak has never appointed anyone as a long-term vice

    president - the route to the presidency in the last two

    transfers of power in Egypt, in 1970 and 1981.

    If he died, the speaker of parliament would take over as

    interim head of state while power brokers decide on a successor

    to be endorsed by popular referendum.

    Rumours about Mubarak's health arose after he postponed

    meetings this month with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom

    and then with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya.

    But he appeared in public last Wednesday, standing and

    talking to reporters about Egyptian plans to help the

    Palestinians if and when Israel withdraws from Gaza.

    Last November he collapsed briefly during a speech to

    parliament. Officials said that was from a combination of cold

    medication and fasting in the month of Ramadan.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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