The Egyptian former president has been moved to a military hospital
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was moved out of prison to a military hospital Tuesday after the 84-year-old ousted leader suffered a stroke and his condition rapidly deteriorated, officials said, adding a new element of uncertainty just as a potentially explosive fight opened over who will succeed him, with both candidates claiming to have won last weekend’s presidential election.
The developments add further layers to what is threatening to become a new chapter of unrest and political power struggles in Egypt, 16 months after Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising demanding democracy.
The campaign of Mubarak’s former prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, said Tuesday he has won Egypt’s presidential election, countering the Muslim Brotherhood’s claim of victory for its candidate, Mohammed Morsi.
The election commission is to announce the official final results on Thursday and no matter who it names as victor, his rival is likely to reject the result as a fraud. If Shafiq is declared winner in particular, it could spark an explosive backlash from the Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood, Egypt’s most powerful political group, is already escalating its challenge against the ruling military over the generals’ move this week to give themselves overwhelming authority over the next president. Some 50,000 protesters, mostly Islamists, massed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Tuesday evening chanting slogans in support of Morsi and denouncing the generals’ power grab.
The health crisis of Mubarak, who is serving a life prison sentence, is yet one more thing to stoke the heat. His condition took a sharp turn for the worse Tuesday evening, the state news agency MENA reported, and officials transferred him from Torah Prison to the nearby Maadi military hospital – the same one where his predecessor Anwar Sadat was declared dead more than 30 years ago after being gunned down by Islamic militants.
Mubarak suffered a stroke and is suffering a “fast deterioration of his health,” MENA said. Earlier, it said, his heart stopped and doctors had to use a defibrillator, and prison officials said he lost consciousness. TV images showed a convoy of ambulances and military vehicles transferring Mubarak from Torah Prison to nearby Maadi Hospital in a suburb south of Cairo.
Moving Mubarak out of prison is likely to further infuriate many in the public, where there is a widespread suspicion that security and military officials sympathetic to their old boss are giving him preferential treatment – so much so that some Egyptians dismiss repeated reports of his faltering health as a pretext for taking him out of prison.
Since June 2, Mubarak has been serving a life sentence at Cairo’s Torah Prison for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the 18-day uprising against his rule last year. The verdict against him has already been a spark for protests – thousands massed in Tahrir when the court acquitted him and his sons on separate corruption charges and cleared several top security chiefs on the protester killings.
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