By Elsa Baxter
Hospital treating Hosni Mubarak gives progress report, but shares slide in Cairo amid concerns.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is doing well after undergoing surgery just over a week ago, the German hospital that is treating him said on Monday, although shares in Cairo slid on concerns about his health.
Mubarak, 81, who has ruled Egypt for almost three decades, had gallbladder surgery on March 6, treatment that has sparked rumours about the seriousness of his condition and weighed on the Egyptian stock exchange.
Some traders say the market is unlikely to regain its poise until the president appears on television.
"The recovery is progressing well," said the spokeswoman for Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany.
Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported that Mubarak had sent a cable to congratulate Ireland's president, Mary McAleese, on an Irish holiday. Though a routine item, any activity related to the president is being watched closely by markets and others.
The president temporarily handed powers to his prime minister, Ahmed Nazif, before the surgery.
As with other occasions in recent years when Mubarak has been sick or had hospital treatment, the market has reflected concerns among Egyptian and foreign investors about the health of the president, who has no clearly designated successor.
Egypt's benchmark index was down 3.1 percent by 1008 GMT on Monday, weighed down by the speculation.
"Unless he is shown live (on television), we're going to continue this, unfortunately," said one Cairo-based trader, who like others asked for his name not to be used because of the political sensitivity of the issue.
Mubarak has not said whether he will run again for a sixth six-year term in the 2011 presidential election. Many Egyptians believe that if he does not, he will try to hand power to his politician son, Gamal, 46. Both Mubaraks deny any such plan. (Reuters)