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Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak (Arabic: محمد حسني سيد مبارك‎ Muḥammad Ḥusnī Sayyid Mubārak; commonly known as Hosni Mubarak; Arabic: حسني مبارك‎; transliterated: Ḥusnī Mubārak); (born 4 May 1928) is the fourth and current President of the Arab Republic of Egypt. He was appointed Vice President in 1975, and assumed the Presidency on 14 October 1981, following the assassination of President Anwar El-Sadat. He is the longest-serving Egyptian ruler since Muhammad Ali Pasha. Before he entered politics Mubarak was a career officer in the Egyptian Air Force, serving as its commander from 1972 to 1975. As of 30 January 2011, Mubarak is struggling to contain a popular uprising against his rule

Few expected that the little-known vice-president who was elevated to the presidency in the wake of Anwar Sadat's 1981 assassination would hold on to the country's top job for so long.

Mr Sadat was assassinated by Islamic radicals at a military parade in Cairo, and Mr Mubarak was lucky to escape the shots as he sat next to him.

Since then, he has survived at least six assassination attempts - the narrowest escape shortly after his arrival in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in 1995 to attend an African summit, when his limousine came under attack.

Besides his knack for dodging bullets, the former Air Force commander has also managed to keep a hold on power for three decades, positioning himself as a trusted Western ally and fighting off a powerful opposition movement at home.

But with his regional clout waning, his health failing, and his succession unclear, many question how long Mr Mubarak will be able to carry on.

Early life

Born in 1928 in a small village at Menofya province near Cairo, he insists on keeping his private life out of the public domain.

Married to a half-British graduate of the American University in Cairo, Suzanne Mubarak, and with two sons, Gamal and Alaa, the Egyptian president is known to lead a strict life with a fixed daily schedule that starts at 0600.

An undated family photograph at Tahadeya Palace in Cairo, released in 2007
Mr Mubarak seen with this wife, two sons and daughter-in-law

Never a smoker or a drinker, he has built himself a reputation as a fit man who leads a healthy life.

In his younger days, close associates often complained of the president's schedule, which began with a work-out in the gym or a game of squash.

Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak was sworn in on 14 October 1981, eight days after the Sadat assassination.

Despite having little popular appeal or international profile at the time, the burly military man has used his sponsorship of the issue behind Sadat's killing - peace with Israel - to build up his reputation as an international statesman.

Emergency rule

In effect, Hosni Mubarak has ruled as a quasi-military leader since he took power.

For his entire period in office, he has kept the country under emergency law, giving the state sweeping powers of arrest and curbing basic freedoms.

The government argues the draconian regime has been necessary to combat Islamist terrorism, which has come in waves during the decades of Mr Mubarak's rule - often targeting Egypt's lucrative tourism sector.

He has presided over a period of domestic stability and economic development that means most of his fellow countrymen have accepted his monopolisation of power in Egypt.

Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, 19 October
Hosni Mubarak is one of the world's longest-serving presidents

In recent years, Mr Mubarak has felt for the first time the pressure to encourage democracy, both from within Egypt, and from his most powerful ally, the United States.

But many supporters of reform doubt the veteran ruler's sincerity when he says he is all for opening the political process.

Mr Mubarak has won three elections unopposed since 1981, but for his fourth contest in 2005 - after a firm push from the US - he changed the system to allow rival candidates.

Critics say the election was heavily weighted in favour of Mr Mubarak and the National Democratic Party (NDP). They accuse the Egyptian leader of presiding over a sustained campaign of suppressing opposition groups, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood.

There are indications from the NDP that the octogenarian plans to stand again in elections slated for later this year.

The length of time he has been president, along with his age and who will succeed him, are all sensitive subjects in Egypt.

People around Mr Mubarak say his health and vigour belie his age - although a couple of recent health scares have been a reminder of his mortality.

Rumours about the president's health gathered pace when he travelled to Germany in March 2010 for gall bladder surgery. They flare every time he misses a key gathering or disappears from the media spotlight for any conspicuous length of time.

However much Egyptian officials try to deny them, they keep circulating, with reports in the Israeli and pan-Arab media.

It's not hard to see why. Mr Mubarak has not named a vice-president. So there is no obvious successor.

Gamal Mubarak 2010
Hosni Mubarak has never commented on his son's presidential potential

The fear among opposition groups is that his son, 40-year-old former investment banker Gamal Mubarak, is being groomed for a kind of dynastic inheritance dressed up as a democratic transition.

Gamal insists he has no ambition to be president, but he has been moving steadily up the ranks of the NDP, becoming a leading advocate of economic and political reform.

Historians point out that every president since the revolution of 1952 has come from the military, and Gamal's civilian credentials may give him trouble in gaining the support of that important constituency.

But decisions will have to be taken before elections at the end of the year.

In the past, Mr Mubarak has said he will continue to serve Egypt until his last breath.

But even if he is not suffering any specific illness, questions will be asked over whether someone who will then be 83 years old is sprightly enough for the rigours of ruling this huge, challenging country, at a time when multiple regional crises are brewing.|source|