CAIRO — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak named a vice president Saturday for the first time since coming to power nearly 30 years ago. It was a clear step toward setting up a successor in the midst of the biggest challenge ever to his rule from tens of thousands of anti-government protesters.
Mubarak named his intelligence chief of nearly two decades and close confidant Omar Suleiman, state television reported.
The president had been seen as grooming his son Gamal to succeed him, possibly even as soon as in presidential elections planned for later this year. However, there was significant public opposition to the hereditary succession.
The appointment of Suleiman, 74, answers one of the most intriguing and enduring political questions in Egypt: Who will succeed 82-year-old Mubarak?
Another question is whether his appointment will calm the chaotic streets of Egypt's cities. In the capital Cairo, looting was rampant on Saturday and lawlessness was spreading fast. Residents of affluent neighborhoods in the capital were even boarding up their houses against gangs of thugs roaming the streets with knives and sticks.
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