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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 January, 2004, 20:11 GMT
Mubarak denies succession reports
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Mubarak has been leader since Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has dismissed reports that his youngest son, Gamal, may succeed him.

Mr Mubarak, in office since 1981, said in a radio interview that the republican system of government in Egypt did not allow for a succession.

He had been asked about recent rumours that his son might become president when he stepped down.

Speculation about a new president increased when the president fell ill during a televised address.

Asked about his health, Mr Mubarak said the recent scare had come about because he had neglected a bout of flu and felt weak.

The fact that in more than 20 years in power, President Mubarak has never appointed a vice-president - the traditional route to the Egyptian presidency - has long caused concern over what might happen after his death.

'This is Egypt'

Gamal, 40, heads an important committee of the ruling National Democratic Party and has become an increasingly visible power in the country.

Gamal Mubarak
The president's son comes from a non-military background

"[Succession talk] is nonsense... the regime in Egypt is republican, there is no hereditary transfer of power," Mr Mubarak said.

"This... will not happen in Egypt."

Mr Mubarak added that even if such things had happened in another country, it would never happen in Egypt.

The BBC's Sebastian Usher reports that this seems to be a thinly concealed jibe at Syria where Bashar al-Assad took over the presidency on the death of his father, Hafez, in 2000.

Our correspondent also notes that Gamal Mubarak is not a military man and Egypt has been led by ex-soldiers ever since the army overthrew the monarchy in 1952.

Profile: Egypt's great survivor
24 Nov 03  |  Africa
Egypt's Mubarak down with 'flu'
21 Nov 03  |  Middle East
Mubarak taken ill in parliament
19 Nov 03  |  Middle East
Country Profile: Egypt
08 Sep 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Egypt
30 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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