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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November, 2003, 12:37 GMT
Mubarak taken ill in parliament
President Hosni Mubarak
Mubarak: Leader since Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981
Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak suffered a "health crisis" as he was making a live televised speech, state TV said, cutting the transmission.

Mr Mubarak was addressing parliament and the broadcast was briefly cut after he started slurring his words.

But he later returned smiling to the chamber to continue his speech.

Deputies gave the 75-year old president - who has led Egypt since 1981 - a standing ovation after his 45-minute absence.

Mr Mubarak, who spoke for about another five minutes after returning to parliament, told deputies that he had not fully shaken off a bout of flu.

According to the Egyptian Information Minister, Safwat el-Sherif, Mr Mubarak had been observing the Muslim fast for the holy month of Ramadan, despite taking antibiotics.

The opening of parliament had been postponed from Saturday because of Mr Mubarak's illness.

In the broadcast, Mr Mubarak stopped speaking and then said "the air-conditioning is too high", after which he collapsed onto the podium.

During his absence Muslim leaders held prayers for his recovery.

Succession

The health scare is bound to raise concerns in Egypt about the succession, the BBC's Heba Saleh reports from Cairo.

Mr Mubarak has refused to appoint a deputy - the normal practice by which Egyptian presidents have in past nominated a successor.

His son Gamal has recently assumed a higher profile and more responsibilities in the ruling National Democratic Party, prompting speculation that he is being groomed for the succession. But both father and son have denied the rumours.

Despite his age, the Egyptian leader is not known to have suffered any recent health problems.

He took office after the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat.




SEE ALSO:
Egypt ruling party pledges reform
29 Sep 03  |  Middle East
Country Profile: Egypt
08 Sep 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Egypt
30 Jul 03  |  Country profiles



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