Conflicting reports about the failing health of strongman Hosni Mubarak have added a new twist to political uncertainty in Egypt, where crowds of protesters were out on the streets opposing the recent dissolution of parliament and the denial of civil liberties by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Earlier, the state run news agency MENA reported that Mr. Mubarak was “clinically dead”. Officials later rubbished the report, but acknowledged that the former President had suffered a stroke and a cardiac arrest on Tuesday at the prison hospital, where he has been admitted after being handed a life sentence.
Mr. Mubarak was revived and transferred to a military medical facility along the Nile.
The Egyptian daily Al Ahram reported on Wednesday on its website that Mr. Mubarak, according to its medical source, was not in deep coma. Other reports said that the former President was no longer on life-support and his heart and other vital organs are functioning on their own.
Mr. Mubarak’s critics said that reports about Mr. Mubarak’s failing health had been deliberately planted to enable his transfer out of prison, to the relative comfort of a military hospital. Others saw in these airings an attempt to defuse the rapidly developing anti-SCAF protests.
“The military just wanted to make big news that would eclipse the Tahrir protests about the ruling military council, the elections and the amended constitution,” said Mohammed Tarek, an interior designer as quoted by Al Ahram online.
The reports about Mr. Mubarak’s health appear to have shifted focus from the rising tensions between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, which claimed on Monday that its candidate Mohamed Morsy had won presidential elections, and backers of his rival Ahmed Shafiq, who are also claiming victory.
Ahmad Sarhan, a spokesman for Mr. Shafiq, said that the former aviator had won the election with 51.5 percent of the vote. Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan warned of a “dangerous face-off,” between the people and the military in case results expected on Thursday showed that Mr. Shafiq had won.
There will be a "dangerous faceoff" between the people and the army if Ahmed Shafiq is declared Egypt's new president,” Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Mahmoud Ghozlan asserted. “Shafiq’s victory would signal an obvious military coup,” he observed during the course of an interview with the Saudi owned Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
The Muslim Brotherhood is claiming victory after compilation of votes that were counted publicly and its tally was corroborated by the state media.
Egypt’s highest court dissolved the parliament last week. The SCAF, then, issued an interim constitution which didn’t give significant powers to the president
Angry crowds that assembled in thousands at Cairo’s Tahrir square on Tuesday warned the military to vacate the premises of parliament after declaration of the election results, which, in their view would confirm that Mr. Morsy had won.