Cairo: A leading member of Egypt's ruling party has hinted it could nominate Jamal Mubarak for president despite his repeated statements that he does not want the post held by his father since 1981.

President Hosni Mubarak has dismissed the idea of an "inheritance" of power by Jamal, but the comments by Hossam Badrawi were a sign that an initiative to push him towards the post may come from allies in the party.

"It is our right as a party to nominate whoever has the qualifications for leadership and it is his right to accept or decline," Badrawi told the ruling party's newspaper.

"This is not inheritance [of power] because, at the end of the day, it must take place in a framework of transparency and democracy," he said, in reference to a scenario in which Jamal would be the party's candidate for president.

Analysts, opposition politicians and diplomats believe Jamal, 42, has been positioned to replace his 78-year-old father. His rising public profile this year has fuelled the speculation and there are no obvious alternatives.

Jamal has been at the heart of changes in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) in the last four years and his position as one of the most influential figures in the party was confirmed yesterday at its annual congress.

During his long address to the party, he said Egypt should consider developing nuclear power as an alternative source of energy a proposal met by loud applause.