Mubarak health drama adds to Egypt uncertainty
By Edmund Blair and Shaimaa Fayed
CAIRO (Reuters) - Hosni Mubarak's transfer to a Cairo military hospital from prison after officials said the ousted leader had suffered a health crisis created a fresh sense of uncertainty for Egyptians as they awaited the result of a weekend presidential poll.
Senior officers and military sources gave various accounts overnight of the 84-year-old Mubarak's condition, including that he was in a coma and on life support. But they said he was not clinically dead, as state media reported for a time on Tuesday.
Mubarak's health has been a subject of frequent speculation since he was jailed for life on June 2, casting his shadow over the political transition and reminding the nation that, 16 months after his fall, few questions have been answered about where Egypt is heading and whether democracy will take root.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the former president's long-time adversary, declared victory for their candidate Mohamed Morsy after a presidential run-off vote on Saturday and Sunday. Rival Ahmed Shafik, a former air force chief like Mubarak and his last prime minister, has challenged the claim and says he is ahead.
But whoever is declared winner - an announcement is due to come on Thursday - the next president's powers have already been curbed in a last-minute decree issued by the ruling generals after they ordered the Islamist-led parliament dissolved.
Reflecting the multiple levels of uncertainty, newspaper headlines pondering the outcome of the presidential vote outcome vied with those reporting the unclear status of the former president's health after his evening transfer from the medical unit of Cairo's Tora prison to the Maadi military hospital.
"Contradiction around the death of Mubarak after he suffers a clot to the brain," wrote Al-Ahram newspaper. Below it the headline read, "Most critical 48 hours in Egypt's history" - a reference to the election committee review of appeals from each candidate over alleged voting violations by the other camp.
"Mubarak in a coma between life and death," wrote Al-Akhbar, below a headline highlighting the row between Morsy and Shafik over who won: "Future president in the realm of the unknown." Continued...