Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Egypt future in 'deeper uncertainty'

07 June 2012, 14:10

Cairo - Hosni Mubarak's health sharply deteriorated on Wednesday, days after he was sentenced to life in prison, and specialists were evaluating whether to transfer him to a better-equipped hospital outside the penal system, security officials said.

The deposed leader's health scare added to the uncertainty engulfing Egypt, where powerful political groups are seeking to bar Mubarak's former prime minister from the presidential runoff and derail the election.

Officials at Cairo's Torah prison said the 84-year-old Mubarak's condition had moved to a "dangerous" phase and that doctors administered oxygen five times to help him breathe. He was also suffering from shock, high blood pressure and severe depression, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Mubarak was being treated in the prison hospital's intensive care unit, which recently underwent a $1m renovation to prepare for his arrival, the officials said. He was the only patient in the five-bed ICU ward.

Dr Hamdi el-Sayyed, who has treated Mubarak over the last decade, said imprisonment in Torah was "inhumane" given his age and poor health.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the gravity of Mubarak's condition. But the ex-leader's health has been an issue in recent years.

He was treated in 2010 for cancer of the gallbladder and pancreas, and his lawyer said after his arrest in April 2011 that it might have spread to his stomach. Officials denied the claim at the time.

Still, the ousted leader was ordered held in a military hospital after a government-appointed panel of physicians determined in May 2011 that he was too ill to be held in prison while awaiting trial, saying he suffered from heart trouble and had tumours in his pancreas removed. It did not say whether the tumours were malignant.

New political twist

Mubarak did not want to go to Torah prison after he was sentenced on Saturday, pleading with his escort to take him back to the military hospital east of Cairo where he had stayed in a suite since his trial began in August. Before that, he was held in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Mubarak and his ex-security chief received life sentences for failing to stop the killing of protesters during last year's uprising, but he and his two sons — one-time heir apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa — were acquitted of corruption charges. The sons are also being held in Torah, awaiting a separate trial on charges of insider trading.

Mubarak's authoritarian regime was widely unpopular by the time of his overthrow, but conditions in Egypt have gone from bad to worse, with a wave of deadly protests, a battered economy and seemingly endless strikes.

Displeasure over the deteriorating conditions could be seen in the second-place finish by Mubarak's former prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, in the first round vote last month, ahead of more liberal candidates. Shafiq is to face the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi in a runoff on 16-17 June.

However, in a new political twist, Egypt's highest court said on Wednesday that on 14 June, two days before the vote, it would take up legal challenges to the legitimacy of both the presidential and recent parliamentary elections. Among other things, it will rule on the consitutionality of a now-suspended "isolation law" that would disqualify top officials of the Mubarak regime from the presidency.

If upheld, Shafiq could be barred from running, possibly forcing the cancellation of the runoff and a repeat of the first-round vote — something that is sure to plunge the nation into more turmoil.

Supreme Constitutional Court spokesperson Maher Sami told The Associated Press he could not say whether a ruling would be reached on June 14, but added: "The court is responsive to public issues and that is why it is rapidly working to settle the case."

"The revolution continues"

Nullifying the election is likely to receive a mixed response, with those who see Shafiq as an extension of the old regime celebrating his disqualification. Morsi's critics would also embrace such a ruling as a way to spare them an Islamist becoming president, a prospect that has alarmed liberals, leftists and minority Christians.

Combined, Shafiq and Morsi won about 50% of the vote, while liberal candidates more in tune with the revolution won 40%. A new election would be an attractive prospect for supporters of leftist Hamdeen Sabahi and moderate Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, who finished third and fourth respectively.

Egyptians living abroad have already cast their ballots in the runoff. Some of the estimated 100 000 who voted posted pictures of their ballots on social networking sites with the names of Morsi and Shafiq crossed out.

"The revolution continues," some wrote, reflecting a widespread sentiment in Egypt that neither candidate is fit to rule Egypt.

On Wednesday, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo and elsewhere for a fifth successive day of demonstrations to call for Shafiq's disqualification, a boycott of the vote or formation of a presidential council to run the country.

Many also protested the mixed verdict in the Mubarak trial, in which six top police commanders were acquitted of complicity in the killing of some 900 protesters during last year's uprising.

The political uncertainty is deepened by the growing tension between the Brotherhood, which controls just under half the seats in the new parliament, and the generals, who gave the legislature until Thursday to agree on a selection process for a panel to draft a new constitution.

The action came after the Brotherhood had packed the panel with Islamists, who account for about 70% of all seats in the chamber. A court order disbanded that panel and efforts to form a new one have been deadlocked.

"There is a struggle within the Brotherhood. ... One strong faction says the office of the president is worth big sacrifices," said Tharwat El-Khirbawy, a former Brotherhood member.

Further complicating the political scene, the Supreme Constitutional Court will also consider on 14 June a ruling by a lower court against a law that regulated recent parliamentary elections. If the ruling is upheld, the elections would be declared illegal and parliament would be dissolved.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...