Mubarak on Life Support Amid Crisis

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

CAIRO (AP) - Egypt's Hosni Mubarak was being kept alive by life
support after the 84-year-old ousted leader suffered a stroke in
prison Tuesday, officials said, deepening the country's 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, which saw Mubarak moved out of prison to a
military hospital, 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 Muslim Brotherhood, emboldened by its claims that it
candidate won the election, sent tens of thousands of its
supporters into the street. It was an escalation of its
confrontation against the ruling generals over their grab this week
of sweeping powers that give them dominance over the next

Some 50,000 protesters, mostly Islamists, protested in Cairo's
Tahrir Square on Tuesday evening chanting slogans in support of the
Brotherhood's candidate Mohammed Morsi and denouncing the generals.

"We, the people, gave them (the military) legitimacy and we now
are taking back," said Saber Ibrahim, a 36-year-old school teacher
who came from his native Beni Suef south of Cairo to participate in
the rally.

The conflicting claims over the election could further stoke the
heat. The campaign of Mubarak's former prime minister, Ahmed
Shafiq, said Tuesday he won the election, denying the Brotherhood's
claim of Morsi's victory. Hundreds of his supporters took to the
streets in Cairo in celebration.

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, which has said Shafiq could only win by fraud.

The sudden health crisis of Mubarak, who is serving a life
prison sentence, briefly overshadowed the political standoff.

Moving Mubarak out of prison is likely to further infuriate many
in the public. Many Egyptians have been skeptical of earlier
reports that his health was worsening since he was put in prison on
June 2, believing the reports were just a pretext to move him to
another facility. There is a widespread suspicion that security and
military officials sympathetic to their old boss are giving him
preferential treatment.

Details of the crisis were still sketchy. Earlier the state news
agency MENA and officials said that while at the Torah Prison
hospital he suffered a "fast deterioration of his health." His
heart stopped beating until he was revived by defibrillation, then
he suffered a stroke.

At that point, he was moved from the prison hospital to Maadi
military hospital - notably the same one where his predecessor
Anwar Sadat was declared dead more than 30 years ago after being
gunned down by Islamic militants.

When Mubarak arrived at the hospital, he was "clinically
dead," MENA reported. It said doctors repeatedly defibrillated him
with no initial response. But later, a security official said
Mubarak was on life support. The official, who spoke on condition
of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press,
had no further details.

Maj. Gen. Mohsen el-Fangari, a member of the ruling military
council, told the Al-Shorouk newspaper website that Mubarak was in
a "very critical condition," but denied he was dead. Mubarak's
wife, Suzanne, came to the hospital, where Mubarak was in an
intensive care unit, another security official said.

The criteria for using the term "clinically dead" are "poorly
defined," said Dr. Lance Becker, a University of Pennsylvania
emergency medicine specialist and an American Heart Association

"My speculation would be that he had that sort of event where
his heart temporarily stopped," said Becker, who is not involved
in Mubarak's treatment. "That doesn't mean that it's
irreversible." Life support can be used to keep his blood
circulating and replace breathing if he is unable to do so on his
own, Becker said.

Mubarak's condition brought to mind former Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon - though it was not known if there was any
medical similarity in their conditions. Sharon suffered a massive
stroke on 2006. Intensive treatment and repeated operations by a
team of brain surgeons stabilized his condition, but he never
regained consciousness. Sharon, 84, is still alive but remains on
life support in a deep coma.

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.

The multiple disputes have turned a moment that was once
anticipated by some as a landmark in Egypt's post-Mubarak
transition - the election of the first civilian president in 60
years - into a potentially destabilizing snarl.

Shafiq's campaign spokesman, Ahmed Sarhan, told a televised news
conference that Shafiq won 51.5 percent of the vote and that the
claim of victory by Morsi was "false."

"Gen. Ahmed Shafiq is the next president of Egypt," said
Sarhan. He said Shafiq won some 500,000 votes more than Morsi, of
the fundamentalist Brotherhood.

The Shafiq campaign's claim came just hours after Morsi's
campaign repeated their claims of victory, saying Morsi had won 52
percent of the vote compared to Shafiq's 48.

The Brotherhood first announced Morsi's victory early Monday,
around six hours after polls closed. It said its claim was based on
returns announced by election officials from each counting center
around the country. Each campaign has representatives at every
center, who compile the individual returns. The Brotherhood's
compilation during the first round of voting last month proved
generally accurate.

Shafiq, a former air force commander who was named prime
minister during Mubarak's last days, is seen by his opponents as
likely to preserve the military-backed police state that his former
boss headed for three decades. He, in turn, has presented himself
as a strongman able to keep Egypt stable and out of the hands of
the Brotherhood, playing on fears the group will turn the country
into an Islamic state.

Just as polls closed on Sunday night, the military - which has
ruled since Mubarak fell on Feb. 11, 2011 - issued a constitutional
declaration that gave themselves power that all but subordinates
the new president. Critics called it a "coup" intended to
maintain their control over the state even after they nominally
transfer authorities to the president by July 1.

The declaration gave the generals legislative powers and control
over the process of drafting a new constitution and the national
budget. It also shields the military against any kind of civilian
oversight and allows the generals to run their own affairs without
interference from civilian authorities.

A court ruling also dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament
last week, a verdict that has been endorsed by a decree issued by
military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. Also last week, the
military-backed government granted military police and intelligence
agents the right to arrest civilians for a host of suspected
crimes, a move that many viewed as tantamount to a declaration of
martial law.

The Brotherhood and its Islamist allies rejected the dissolution
decree and insists the parliament is still in effect.

Tens of thousands demonstrated in Cairo and the Mediterranean
port city of Alexandria Tuesday evening to denounce the
constitutional declaration, which also strips the next president of
significant powers and the court ruling.

The estimated 50,000 protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square,
birthplace of last year's anti-Mubarak uprising, were mostly
Brotherhood supporters and other Islamists joined by a small group
of leftist and liberal activists.

"It is not possible to have a revolution and then have military
rule and a president with no authority," said protester Mohammed
Abdel-Hameed, a 48-year-old schoolmaster who said he came with his son and others to Tahrir from Fayyoum, an oasis province 60 miles (100 kilometers) southwest of Cairo.

"If they want blood we are ready to offer blood. I am. So that
my son can live free," warned Abdel-Hameed, who wore traditional
galabeya robes.

Some protesters gathered outside parliament earlier Tuesday, and
a number of lawmakers tried to enter the building but were turned
away by security forces. Hundreds of black-clad policemen armed
with clubs and shields ringed the building, standing behind metal

"Military rule again, no way! We're the power, we're the
people," protesters chanted. They addressed Tantawi, Mubarak's
defense minister for 20 years, shouting, "You coward Field
Marshal, free the parliament."

The military's assertion of authority came under international
criticism, from Amnesty International and former U.S. President
Jimmy Carter, who has met repeatedly with the generals in visits to

Carter said in a statement that he was "deeply troubled by the
undemocratic turn that Egypt's transition has taken." His Carter
Center monitored the weekend runoff as it has every nationwide vote
in Egypt since Mubarak's ouster in a popular uprising engineered by
pro-democracy youth groups.

He pointed to the dissolution of parliament and the elements of
martial law and said the constitutional declaration "violated the
military's commitment to make a full transfer of power to an
elected civilian government.

"An unelected military body should not interfere in the constitution drafting process," said Carter.

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