Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak rejected a German offer of a medical treatment, which media reports said was one of the options being considered for an honourable departure for the Arab leader after more than three decades in power.
Mubarak, who has been defying mounting pressure to step down since the uprising against his regime began on January 25, does not require any medical treatment, his newly-appointed Vice-President Omar Suleiman said.
"We thank Germany for its offer, but the president has no need for a medical treatment," Suleiman said in an interview, which was published in several Egyptian newspapers. There have been reports in the past days that an "extended medical examination" for 82-year-old Mubarak in Germany is being considered by the United States and its European partners as one of the options to allow their long-time ally to leave his country in dignity and thereby create the conditions for an orderly transition.
Some European officials have confirmed that there were behind-the-scene discussions on this at last week's international security conference in Munich, which was attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister David Cameron and a number of other leaders from both sides of the Atlantic.
Western governments are now becoming increasingly concerned that Mubarak's intransigence to remain in power until his term ends in September could turn the relatively peaceful protests into violence and further destabilise their most important partner in the Arab world. Suleiman said in his interview that those demanding Mubarak to step down "are insulting not only the President, but also the Egyptian people."
Mubarak is a "hero" of the war against Israel in 1973, the vice-president said. He also described the call from protests organisers for nation-wide civil disobedience to mount pressure on the government as a "serious threat to the society." He also warned of the risk of a coup d'etat if the dialogue with the protestors failed. Media reports speculated that Mubarak may travel to Germany for a medical examination if he finally decides toleave the country. The University Hospital in Heidelberg said it is ready to receive the President for another stay if he asks for atreatment. Mubarak had spent three weeks at the hospital in March, last year to remove the gall bladder and a small intestine polyp. He also underwent medical examination for suspected intestinal cancer.
A German government spokesman said yesterday that so far there has been no request from Mubarak for a medical treatment.