Page last updated at 18:05 GMT, Saturday, 3 November 2007

Egypt ruling party keeps Mubarak

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at National Democratic Party congress - 3/11/2007
The vote to keep Mr Mubarak as party head was uncontested

Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party has opened its general congress by voting to keep 79-year-old President Hosni Mubarak as its head.

Party delegates voted overwhelmingly to retain Mr Mubarak for another five years in an uncontested secret ballot.

There had been speculation that the congress would elevate the president's son, Gamal Mubarak, to head the party.

The younger Mr Mubarak has often denied that he is being groomed to succeed his father as Egypt's next president.

The four-day conference is officially to discuss social and economic policy.

But it is the first time the party has held a leadership vote since Mr Mubarak took over after the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat.

Economic reformer

Gamal Mubarak chairs the party's policy committee, giving him the chance to exert considerable influence.

Gamal Mubarak
Gamal Mubarak denies he is being groomed to succeed his father
He is credited with the successful economic reforms implemented over the past three years.

In recent years the former banker has come to wield enormous influence over Egyptian affairs, says the BBC's Heba Saleh in Cairo.

He is admired by many in the business community who praise him as a thoughtful man, attentive to detail and determined to modernise the economy, says our correspondent.

But his critics say he is not a democrat and political changes introduced by his party last year have made Egypt more authoritarian.

Those who want him as president argue that he would guarantee the continuity of economic reform, and form a preferable alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood.

But those who oppose him say the next president should come through genuinely democratic elections.

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