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Egypt’s military could be a “key stumbling block” for any bid by presidential son Gamal Mubarak to succeed his father in next year’s presidential election, according to leaked US diplomatic cables.

Gamal Mubarak, son of Egyptian president Mubarak

But the 47-year-old banker and younger son of President Hosni Mubarak tops the list of contenders to the top job along with spy chief Omar Suleiman and Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa, according to WikiLeaks.

“Cairene conventional wisdom holds that Gamal wants the job, despite his repeated denials to the contrary,” then US ambassador Francis Ricciardone wrote in a May 2007 secret cable devoted to the presidential succession in Egypt, released on Monday by WikiLeaks.

“It is hard to argue that Gamal is not being groomed for the presidency,” the cable says, noting his “increasingly robust role” in the ruling National Democratic Party.

“Many in the Egyptian elite see his succession as positive, as his likely continuation of the current status quo would serve their business and political interests.”

But the military elite may think otherwise, the cable suggests.

“A key stumbling block for a Gamal candidacy could be the military,” writes Ricciardone, who notes that the four Egyptian presidents since the 1952 coup that overthrew the monarchy came from military ranks, including Hosni Mubarak.

Tough sell

The documents, released by the WikiLeaks website Tuesday, conclude that Mubarak might be able to install his son if he does so before his death and steps aside. If the elder Mubarak dies in office, however, the succession scenario becomes “messier,” with no guarantee of military support for his son but also few other clear alternatives, the memos say.

“His power base is his father, and so while he could conceivably be installed prior to Mubarak’s death, the task would become far more difficult … once the pharaoh has departed the scene,” Ricciardone added, relying on the opinions of observers who were not identified.

AFP, WP

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