CAIRO—One of Egypt's most powerful politicians said Tuesday that the country's ruling party wanted President Hosni Mubarak to run in next year's presidential elections.
Safwat el-Sherif's comments echoed similar ones made by Prime Minster Ahmed Nazif over the weekend.
Combined, their comments appear designed to create a momentum for the 82-year-old Mubarak, Egypt's leader of nearly 30 years, to run for a new, six-year term in office in 2011.
"The party is filled with hope that President Mubarak will be a candidate," el-Sherif, Secretary General of the ruling National Democratic Party, told the Dubai-based Al Arabiya television news network.
"Everyone looks to President Mubarak as a leader of this nation and everyone is behind him," he said.
"He (Mubarak) is a legend who cannot be replaced," said el-Sherif, also the speaker of the Shura Council, the upper house of Egypt's parliament.
Nazif told Egyptian editors on Saturday he wished to see Mubarak run next year, arguing that the country's political system has failed to produce an alternative to the Egyptian leader.
Mubarak, who had gallbladder surgery in Germany in March, has yet to publicly state whether he would run.
Speculation over who will succeed him, meanwhile, has intensified in recent months.
Many believe that Mubarak is grooming Gamal, the younger of his two sons, to succeed him.
While on a visit to Italy last week, he dodged a reporter's question on who could succeed him.
"Who knows? Who knows? Only God knows who will be my successor," Mubarak said.
Pro-reform groups have recently rallied around former U.N. nuclear chief and Egyptian diplomat Mohammed ElBaradei, urging him to run for president.
Mubarak recently warned opposition groups against fomenting "chaos" in the country and challenged them to outline plans to rival his for sustaining growth and development.