Jailed Mubarak's health casts shadow ahead of Egypt vote
By Edmund Blair
CAIRO (Reuters) - Speculation about Hosni Mubarak's health has riveted Egyptians since he was sent to jail to serve a life sentence, a reminder that his legacy still hangs over the Arab world's most populous nation days before a run-off election to choose his successor.
The former president may have been pushed from power, yet many of his opponents worry that the institutions of state which kept him in office for 30 years are regrouping to reassert their grip after last year's popular uprising.
Some point to the deciding presidential vote on June 16-17, when Egyptians face a stark choice between the candidate of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Mursi, and Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak's last prime minister who was a top military officer like his ex-boss.
"The fact that you have Shafik as a candidate for the presidency and that he has a real chance to be the next president does mean for me that the transitional period has been managed in a way to reach that result," said Hassan Nafaa, a politics professor who also campaigned against Mubarak's rule.
Reports of the 84-year-old Mubarak's waning health conveyed by various officials, newspapers and state media, offering scant and sometimes conflicting details of his ailments, have only served to fuel suspicions held by the former president's opponents.
Critics see such reports as a bid to have Mubarak moved to a medical facility, sparing him the humiliation of a prison hospital. Mubarak's lawyer says he is in a critical state and being denied the basic rights of a prisoner to proper treatment.
A prison official said Mubarak was in a stable condition on Tuesday.
"(Mubarak's) entourage has already used this way to gain the sympathy of the Egyptian people," said Nafaa, although he said he had no first-hand insight into the former president's condition. "We are in a very troubled moment," he added. Continued...