Arab League chief eyes Egyptian presidency

Arab League chief eyes E

The head of the Arab League indicated in an interview published Tuesday that he may consider running for Egypt's presidency in elections scheduled for 2011. Amr Moussa's remarks come amid a heated debate in Egypt about who would replace President Hosni Mubarak who has ruled the Arab world's most populated nation for 28 years. The 81-year-old Mubarak has not said whether he will run for another six-year term in the 2011 vote. Mubarak, 81, has no designated successor and there is widespread speculation that he plans to pass power over to his son, Gamal. The 45-year old former banker has become increasingly influential in the ruling party over the last decade. Arab League chief Moussa is wildly popular in Egypt and the Arab world for his frequent criticism of the United States and Israel on such issues like the Palestinians and Iraq. A career diplomat, he served as Egypt's foreign minister under Mubarak for nearly a decade before being named league secretary-general in 2002. "Every capable and efficient citizen has the right to aspire for the supreme post, which is the president of the republic," the 73-year-old Moussa said in the interview with the independent Egyptian newspaper, Al-Shorouk. "Undoubtedly, I am, like others, looking forward to participate in the project of Egypt's resurrection," he said. An Egyptian group launched a petition calling for Moussa to run in 2005 elections but he declined the offer. In Tuesday's interview Moussa said, "I thank them for the confidence. The message has been received." Mubarak's ruling party has a lock on all levels of the government and dominates parliament, and past elections have seen widespread reports of vote rigging in the party's favor. Moreover, opposition parties are weakened and have little popular support, so whatever candidate gains the patry nomination for the 2011 vote would have an overwhelming likelihood of winning.