Cairo (AsiaNews) - It's a mystery concerning the health of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 84, in a coma since yesterday. The former Commander, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for his responsibility in the deaths of 850 demonstrators in Tahrir Square, was declared clinically dead by the official agency Mena, which later denied the news. The only thing that's certain is his emergency transfer from prison to the hospital after a heart attack. He is allegedly attached to a respirator, but alive. Meanwhile, the country prepares for a new wave of protests after the presidential election results, which will be posted tomorrow. The head to head is between Mohammed Morsy, of the Muslim Brotherhood, who has already declared himself the winner, and Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister, backed by the army and former regime members.
The mystery regarding the health of the Egyptian president started in March 2011, after his deposition caused by the immense protests in Tahrir Square. At all the sessions of the trial for corruption and murder, the Commander always appeared lying on a stretcher. Many Egyptians argue that his showing himself as dying was a tactic to win pity from the judges and the public and to get life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. The project of his transfer from the prison of Tora to Maadi military hospital was scheduled for June 2, the day of his final conviction, which coincided with a deterioration of the former president's health conditions. To date, no team of doctors has explained the nature of the illness of the Egyptian Commander, who allegedly suffered a heart attack and respiratory failure.
Born in 1928 into an upper-class family, Hosni Mubarak entered the army as soon as he became of age, where he became a skilled pilot trained in the Soviet schools. His consecration took place in 1973, during the Yom Kippur War between Israel and Egypt, which earned him the Air Marshal's stripes. His military career within the political establishment began in the mid 70s with Anwar al-Sadat, the man responsible for the Egyptian turnaround and the peace with Israel, and succeeded him at the helm of Egypt after the death of Gamal Abd el-Nasser. On October 6, 1981 Mubarak was already vice-president, when Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists during a military parade. Mubarak, who was sitting next to the president, remained unscathed, having bent down to tie his shoe: a coincidence about which his detractors speculate at length, saying that he was aware of the imminent attack.
He assumed the reins of power, and would hold them for over 30 years, ruling with an iron fist thanks to the state of emergency that came into force because of the death of Sadat, which allowed him to control very effectively all forms of opposition. The silent repression of all dissent, the fight against Islamic extremists and relations with Israel earned him economic, political and military support from Western countries, particularly the United States.
The economic crisis of the 90s caused a first dip in support for Mubarak, whose credibility would subsequently be damaged by some complaints for having favored his son 'Ala in the processes of privatization of companies. But it was mainly his other son, Gamal, chosen by the Commander as his heir and unpopular with the Egyptian people, who earned him hatred and resentment even within his own political party, the National Democratic Party. In 2005, the Commander tested his strength in the presidential elections, held without a real opponent, and won with 90% approval. With the more serious economic crisis of 2007, the conditions of the Egyptian people precipitated. Over 50% of young people found themselves with an education but without a job, and many decided to emigrate to Europe or to wealthier bordering countries, such as Libya and Tunisia. With the attacks in Alexandria on January 1, 2011, which cost dozens of deaths, even his relationship with the Coptic Orthodox Egyptian Church hierarchy would be broken. Suspicions fell on the secret services, controlled by the Commander's men.
The economic crisis, a police state, repression and the huge protests in Tunisia organized against Ben Alì, caused the wrath of the population to explode. On 25 January 2011, tens of thousands of people descended on Tahrir Square for the day of "wrath", demanding an end to the regime, full rights and a secular state. For 18 days between the Commander and the crowd of protesters massed in Tahrir Square, a grueling test of strength played out that would end on February 11, when the vice-president, Omar Suleiman, appeared on TV and announced the long-awaited message: Mubarak has resigned. The former president would flee to Sharm el-Sheik, while the new Egypt cried out for his indictment for his regime's repression and corruption. In April of 2011, the hospitalization for heart problems, then the trial and the sentencing to life imprisonment. (SC)