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Politics | Society

Egypt speculates over President's health

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak working from hospital in Heidelberg

© Egypt govt/afrol News
afrol News, 19 March
- After two weeks in a German hospital, 81-year-old President Hosni Mubarak finally was shown in relatively good shape on Egyptian TV. But secrecy over his health condition fuel speculations over Mr Mubarak's possibilities of re-election next year.

Talking publically about the health situation of the country's ailing President is close to taboo in Egypt. Official pictures of Mr Mubarak, found all across Egypt, show him decades younger than he is. And the President is careful to tan his grey hair dark to maintain a juvenile and vital image.

No wonder then, that speculations about the gravity of his disease have surfaced all over Egypt after it was announced Mr Mubarak was admitted to the Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany for gall bladder surgery two weeks ago.

Government officials and media have made sure to downplay the surgery during these weeks. There have been constant government messages repeating Mr Mubarak "is recovering well." Many saw these rather clumsy attempts to calm the public as reason for alarm. Was the political elite in Cairo preparing a power transfer while President Mubarak was dying secretly?

No such thing.

Today, the Egyptian state broadcaster finally could reproduce live images from the Heidelberg hospital, showing President Mubarak taking up government works. The President was seen doing paperwork and giving orders to Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif over the telephone. State media were careful to mention seven government officials in Cairo and two fellow Arab state leaders that had received a phone-call from Mr Mubarak that day.

President Mubarak is "following up state affairs," government statements emphasised. The old leader - with freshly tanned hair - was back in business, Egyptians were told.

But while Mr Mubarak was shown to have recovered from surgery in Heidelberg, the Egyptian leader looked older in the broadcast footing and his mortality was more visible. Medical reports on his health have gone far in indicating Mr Mubarak suffered - or still suffers - from cancer.

He was first diagnosed with "severe inflammation of his gall bladder." During surgery on 6 March, his gall bladder and "a benign growth" on the small intestine were removed. According to a press release from Dr Markus Buechler, the medic treating Mr Mubarak in Germany, "the final pathology report has confirmed the benign nature of the tissues removed during the surgery."

In the latest press release from the Heidelberg hospital, Dr Buechler focused on President Mubarak's recovery, which was described as "progressing normally." The state leader had demonstrated his "witty mood" with the medical team and "his physical mobility is improving in a satisfactory manner. The clinical and regular laboratory investigations are all moving in the right direction," Dr Buechler emphasised.

Nevertheless, the Egyptian President would still have to be provided with "full medical care in the days to come," the hospital added.

The 81-year-old, non-regarding his true health situation, nevertheless can be expected to return to Egypt within short. He will also be expected to stand candidate in next year's presidential elections. And only death could hinder him from winning the poll.

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