Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak , 83, was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, the muscular tube through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach, eight months ago, although his illness was kept a state secret, debkafile's intelligence sources report. The diagnosis was confirmed on March 6, when the president underwent surgery at a hospital in Germany. It was first reported by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 437 on March 19 in a report captioned "Mubarak Has Cancer - Presidential Powers are in Process of Transfer."
Since returning home, the president is rarely seen in Cairo and spends most of his time at the Sharm el-Sheikh Sinai resort. There, he enjoys the rest recommended for him and his medical advisers, some from abroad, can come and go unnoticed.
Most recently, the doctors told him the cancerous cells are spreading.
Monday, July 5, the Egyptian president arrived in Paris - officially for meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri. But our sources say he traveled for medical tests at the exclusive Percy Military Hospital at Clamart, outside Paris, where senior French politicians and the president's important friends are treated in great privacy.
Incidentally, it was there that Yasser Arafat was hospitalized and died in 2004.
Mubarak has spent the last two years carefully managing the transition of power so that his passing will not leave a vacuum or cause political earthquakes. According to debkafile's Middle East sources, the transfer of the presidency to his son Gemal (Jimmy) Mubarak, 52, was set in train in the winter of 2009 with the help of military and political bodies connected with the ruling National Democratic Party-NPD.
Gemal was groomed as successor and currently holds the post of General Secretary of the NPD's Policy Committee.
Deals were struck with the top Egyptian military and intelligence echelons to support the candidacy of Mubarak Jr. and not put up their own candidates for president. There is no truth therefore in the rumors that intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman is the favored candidate of Egypt's military.
The president-in-waiting still faces two tests. One is how he handles the expansion of his executive powers so as to fill his father's shoes as clear frontrunner in advance of the 2011 presidential election. The younger Mubarak will also be watched to see if opens the election to international monitors, thereby giving his country its first comparatively free election - or leave Egyptian supervisory mechanisms in place and assure himself of victory.
Many Egyptians are asking if Gemal Mubarak will let partial democracy be introduced after his father's long years of suppressing opposition.