Yahoo! News - Jan 29, 2005, 12:21 PM ET

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (news - web sites) gave a strong hint on Saturday that he would seek a fifth six-year term in office and argued that the current system of having parliament choose the president makes the country stable.

Mubarak told reporters on his plane to an African summit in Nigeria that calls to change the constitution were pointless at this stage. Many opposition parties want the system changed to allow direct multi-candidate elections.

Mubarak, asked about his election manifesto, said: "My election manifesto has been announced and exists and is applied every day, for I'm not new to the scene and my acts are my manifesto." He was quoted by the state news agency MENA.

In the absence of any obvious successor, Mubarak, 76, is widely expected to let the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) nominate him for another term, possibly in May.

Once the party chooses him, the nomination goes to parliament, where the NDP holds more than 85 percent of the seats. In a referendum in September, Egyptians could then vote yes or no on whether they want him to continue.

Asked to comment on calls for constitutional change, he said: "The call is now in vain. Those who talk about direct elections and the referendum and which system is best must understand that the referendum is based on nomination by the people's representatives in parliament."

Mubarak dropped another hint earlier this month when he said that he did not intend to play games by saying he was going to leave office and then have people demand that he stay.

He added that Egyptians should remember the political struggles under the 1923 constitution and the instability in the six months leading up to the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952.

Egypt has had only four heads of state since 1952, all of them drawn from the armed forces. The first was a figurehead who was pushed aside and the next two both died in office.

Mubarak has already given hints that he will stay in office but he has also said that governing Egypt for 23 years has been hard work and if he had his way he would like to rest.

Mubarak argued against an opposition demand that the head of state abandon his party affiliation on taking office.

"I would like to give up the leadership of the party but my knowledge of our history and earlier Egyptian experiences show that if the president distances himself from the party, he leaves the majority party at the mercy of the winds," he said.

"It (the majority party) tends toward the personal interests of its members when its duty is to work for the country and the citizens," he added.