Mubarak, who has long been grooming his son, Jamal, to succeed him, is currently under pressure from many Egyptians to prefer Suleiman, according to a report in Thursday's London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi.
Jamal Mubarak is also said to be concerned about Suleiman's growing popularity and the demands to name him the next president, the paper said in an exclusive dispatch from Cairo.
It quoted informed sources in the Egyptian capital as saying that the talk about Suleiman's rising stardom could backfire, resulting perhaps in the intelligence chief's ouster from his post.
"General Suleiman is highly appreciated among ordinary Egyptians," the sources said. "But the Egyptian regime is known for getting rid of anyone who gains popular admiration."
Mubarak's supporters are particularly "shocked" about the pro-Suleiman campaign that has been launched on the Internet by young Egyptians. One of the drives is being held under the motto: "Neither Jamal nor the Muslim Brotherhood." Some Egyptian bloggers and chatters have also joined the pro-Suleiman camp by publishing numerous articles explaining why he is the most suitable candidate to succeed Mubarak.
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Surveys conducted by Suleiman supporters showed that Egyptians prefer him over Mubarak's son as the next president, the sources told the paper.
"About 12 million Egyptians are following all the news published about Suleiman on the Internet, as opposed to only a few thousand who have displayed interest in other prominent Egyptian officials," the sources added.
Jamal and his supporters have thus far succeeded in preventing the emergence of a powerful candidate to succeed Mubarak, they said, noting that several former government officials whose names had been mentioned as leading candidates have found themselves "sitting at home" doing nothing