Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in power for almost three decades, has handed power temporarily to his prime minister while he undergoes gallbladder surgery on Saturday in Germany, state television said.
Mubarak, 81, who gave a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, delegated power to the prime minister in 2004 when he had back surgery in Germany. He showed no signs of frailty at Thursday's news conference.
Mubarak has not said whether he will seek a sixth six-year term in the 2011 presidential election, nor has he designated a successor but many believe he will try to hand power to his politician son Gamal, 46, if he chooses not to stand again, Reuters informs.
Mubarak, who was accompanied by his wife and two sons, has decreed that Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif will exercise all presidential powers while he is out of the country, the news agency said.
Mubarak's term in office ends next year and concern about his health often prompts speculation about the leadership of the Arab world's most populous nation, a U.S. ally that plays a critical role in issues ranging from Mideast peace efforts to curbing Islamic militancy, The Associated Press reported.