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MIDDLE EAST
10 February 2011 Last updated at 14:29 ET
Profile: Omar Suleiman
Suleiman: trusted Mubarak associate
Omar Suleiman, the man appointed by Hosni Mubarak as his vice-president on 29 January, has emerged from the shadows in recent years to play an increasingly visible public role.
While few Egyptians know many personal details about the former intelligence chief, he has gained an international reputation as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians and between rival Palestinian factions.
He has also been trying to secure the release of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, currently being held in Gaza by Hamas.
Since Egypt became the first Arab country to make peace with Israel in 1979, its Western allies have seen its involvement in such negotiations as key to its strategic regional importance.
General Suleiman has been a frequent visitor to the United States.
Possible successor?
Born in 1935 in Qena in Upper Egypt, Omar Suleiman, joined the army in 1954 and received military training in the former Soviet Union. He also gained a higher degree in political science at university in Cairo.
Afterwards he moved quickly through the ranks of government intelligence. In 1991, he became director of military intelligence and two years later, he was named general intelligence director.
OMAR SULEIMAN
Born 1935 in Qena
Joined army in 1954
Fought in 1962 Yemen conflict and Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973
Not a member of the ruling NDP
Appointed vice-president 29 January
His long military career, serving in the Yemen conflict and the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973, means that he is widely supported in the armed services, the most powerful institution in Egypt.
However he has also proven to be a trusted associate of the president, Hosni Mubarak. In 1995 his quick-witted advice may have saved the Egyptian leader's life in an assassination attempt on his motorcade in Ethiopia.
While he has shown little political ambition, General Suleiman has often been mentioned as a possible successor to the 82-year-old Mr Mubarak.
He would continue in the trend of military strongmen who have led Egypt since the 1952 revolution.
The prominent independent journalist, Ibrahim Issa, has previously suggested that the general would be "a compromise candidate for all Egyptian forces".
Last year posters supporting the general mysteriously appeared in central Cairo, only to be swiftly taken down.
In the past, constitutional rules would have posed a problem for any presidential bid. These officially dictate that a contender must have held a senior rank in a political party for at least a year prior to elections. General Suleiman has not been a member of the ruling National Democratic Party.
However, that is unlikely to curry much favour with the tens of thousands of demonstrators on the streets of Egypt venting their anger against the NDP, as he is seen as a pivotal figure in Mr Mubarak's 30-rule rule.
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