Egypt's veteran President Hosni Mubarak underwent successful surgery in Germay, Saturday, to remove his inflamed gallbladder.  That is what is being reported by Egypt's official news agency and a team of doctors that performed the surgery.  The president had been on an official trip to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel.  The president's health crisis was being followed with concern back home amid worries that the 81 year-old president has no clear successor.

Egyptian government TV announced that veteran President Hosni Mubarak is alert and recovering from surgery to remove his gallbladder Saturday. The operation took place at a German medical center in Heidelberg. Mr. Mubarak was on an official state visit to Germany when he complained of gall bladder pain.

Mr. Mubarak's German team of doctors held a press conference after the operation to say that it was successful and to indicate why it had been necessary. "The medical imaging studies confirmed the diagnosis of chronic calculus colitysitis, with extensive adhesions and additionally, endoscopy revealed a duodenal polyp. Accordingly, a successful open surgery was carried out this morning to remove both the gallbladder and the duodenal polyp, safely," he said.

The 81 year-old Egyptian president, who has ruled the Middle East's most populous Arab state since 1981, looks considerably younger than his age and reportedly plays squash to remain fit. Doctors noted that Mubarak was awake and joking with them shortly after surgery.

The Egyptian press tried to reassure the public that the president's condition was not serious, amid widespread concern over his health. Mr. Mubarak handed over his executive powers to Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif until he returns to Egypt.

Said Sadek, who is professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo, said that the concern over the president's health revolves around the absence of a clear successor if he were to die suddenly. "Egypt, like many countries in the Middle East and developing countries, does not have strong institutions, except the institution of the president or the king, and so the whole Middle East depends usually on a one-man show: one man who wields all power according to the constitution, tradition or custom. And so, anything that affects the president can be very serious and it would raise alarm, and officially the succession in Egypt is not clear up to today," he said.

Sadek went on to say that many in Egypt believe that Mr. Mubarak is grooming his son Gamal to be his successor, despite official denials. "This is what happened in Syria, where the son of (President Hafez al Assad) became his successor," he notes. "In Egypt," he stresses, "similar attempts look to be happening and this is causing a lot of confusion, so that's why the issue of the president's health is very sensitive politically."

Egypt is due to hold a presidential election in 2011, and President Mubarak has still not indicated if he plans to run for a sixth term or not. Former International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei indicated recently that he was interested in running for president, as well.