EGYPT: Mubarak returns to Egypt after surgery
President Hosni Mubarak returned to Egypt on Saturday after spending three weeks in Germany, where he had his gall bladder and a growth on his small intestine successfully removed at Heidelberg University Hospital.
The 81-year-old president arrived at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, 301 miles southeast of Cairo, where he was greeted by government officials and military leaders. The last few weeks saw many rumors around Mubarak's health, especially after he went for 10 days following the surgery before making his first public appearance, prompting millions of Egyptians to wonder what would be the country's fate if he were to die.
Consequently, the Egyptian stock exchange market registered its lowest close in more than three months on March 15 as a result of investors' uncertainty of Mubarak's health.
An earlier statement read by head of the medical staff that performed Mubarak's surgery, professor Markus Buechler, said that Mubarak had fully recovered and that he recommended "that the president continues his convalescence back home during the coming two weeks before he gradually returns to full and normal activity."
Prior to leaving for Heidelberg, Mubarak assigned his presidential tasks to Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, who most Egyptians believed lacked the power to issue crucial decrees in the president's absence.
Such belief was affirmed when Egypt's and the world's most influential Sunni Islam institution, Al Azhar, had to wait nine days for Mubarak to regain his powers and officially approve the appointment of its new grand sheik following the March 10 death of former Azhar cleric Mohamed Sayed Tantawi.
Mubarak, who has been ruling Egypt since 1981, has yet to announce whether he will nominate himself for a seventh term in office come the 2011 presidential elections.
It is not the first time Mubarak's health has been the focus of attentions; especially after he once collapsed while giving a speech in front of the parliament in 2003 and underwent a back surgery in Germany in 2004.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: President Hosni Mubarak and his wife, Suzan, return to Egypt from Germany, where he underwent surgery. Credit: Agence France-Presse