Mubarak rejects foreign pressure

Egypt's leader gives no clues about successor as ruling party conference ends.

     
    Mubarak gave no real indication of what political life in Egypt will be like after his rule [AFP]
    The president's comments are an apparent reference to proposed US legislation to cut the country's aid unless it stops committing human-rights abuses.
     
    Help the poor
     
    Earlier this year, the US House of Representatives proposed legislation that would withhold $200 million in military aid until Cairo takes steps to curb police abuse, reform its judicial system and stop arms smuggling into the neighbouring Gaza Strip.
     
    Egypt receives $1.3bn worth of military aid from the US annually, along with large amounts of civilian aid, the second largest recipient of American aid in the world after Israel.
     
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    Will Gamal Mubarak succeed his father as president?

    Though Egypt has been critical of the proposed legislation, the Bush administration in recent years has largely backed down from pushing Egypt towards what it calls democratic reform.
     
    Mubarak, who turns 80 next year, also used his speech to urge his government to do more to help his country's lower-income families who are suffering from rampant inflation induced by new economic policies.
     
    "Social justice is an essential pillar of our general policy," he said.
     
    But the four-day conference offered few surprises and no major leadership reshuffle. It gave few indications of what the party, or Egypt, would look like after Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for more than 25 years, leaves office.
     
    Mubarak's son Gamal on Monday deflected a renewed spate of questioning as to whether he would eventually take over the reins of power from his father.
     
    Son and heir?
     
    The 43-year-old former investment banker, who heads the party's powerful politburo, said he was focused solely on parliamentary elections due to be held in three years time.
     
    Nevertheless, NDP members voted on Saturday to create a "higher committee" widely perceived as putting Gamal a step closer to the presidency.
     
    The body will nominate the party's next presidential candidate and incorporates the influential policies secretariat which Gamal heads.
     
    Without the committee, the NDP could only have put Hosni Mubarak forward for the next presidential election in 2011.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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