Egypt’s former president Mubarak dies, presidency mourns

Cairo, Feb 25 (IANS) Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s fourth and longest-serving president, has died at the age of 91 after undergoing treatment in an intensive care unit following surgery, the media reported on Tuesday.

Mubarak who had ruled Egypt for 30 years before he was overthrown in 2011 mass protests has passed away in Cairo’s Galaa military hospital, Xinhua reported.

Egyptian presidency has mourned the death of Mubarak for his services to the homeland as “a hero of October 1973 war” and offered condolences to his family.

“Mubarak was commander of the Air Forces during the war that restored dignity and pride to the Arab nation,” the presidency added in a statement. It announced nation-wide three days of mourning.

Later, Egypt’s armed forces also mourned his death as “one of its sons and a war leader,” a military spokesman said in a statement.

“Supporters of Mubarak’s page on Facebook also mourned the death of Mubarak and offered condolences to his two sons.

However, social media was also crowded with photos of the murdered protesters who passed away in 2011, blaming Mubarak for their death.

His older son Alaa said in a Twitter post that included images of his late father that he had died on Tuesday morning.

He also posted his father speech on February 1, 2011 that said “This dear nation is where I lived, I fought for it and defended its soil, sovereignty and interests. On its soil I will die. History will judge me like it did others.”

Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates’ minister of state for foreign affairs, said the Arab world has lost a statesman who took significant national and historic positions.

The former president succeeded Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated on October 6, 1981 while attending a military parade to commemorate the 1973 war.

Born in 1928 in Munofiya province in the Nile River Delta, Mubarak graduated from the Air Force Academy and worked as its director for three years.

He was appointed by then President Anwar Sadat as Air Force Commander in 1972. Later, he was awarded by the late president for his accomplishments during the Arab-Israeli war.

He was married to Suzanne Mubarak, a half-British graduate of the American University in Cairo, with two sons, Alaa and Gamal.

In 1975, Sadat appointed Mubarak as his vice president.

When Mubarak assumed power, he focused on getting Egypt from its isolation with some Arab and Muslim countries in response to Sadat’s signing of a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

His foreign policies have long dominated the Middle East. He built successful ties with Iraq and provided military assistance to Baghdad in its war with Iran.

Egypt’s role in settling the Palestinian cause was very clear during Mubarak’s time. In 2008, Mubarak managed to draw a truce between Islamic Hamas movement and Israel.

He sent troops as part of the US-led coalition in the 1990-1991 Gulf war.

In June 1995, Mubarak survived an assassination attempt on his motorcade while he was attending a summit in Ethiopia.

Mubarak won three elections, but for his fourth contest in 2005, he changed the system to allow rival candidates after pressure of some western countries over concerns of applying democracy.

During his reign, Egypt has witnessed slow but steady economic growth. For his entire period in office, he kept the country under emergency law to curb the terrorism.

But giving the state sweeping powers has raged Egyptian people over police harsh practices.

Inspired by the first Arab Spring revolt in Tunisia, protesters took to the streets in January 25, 2011, who commemorate the Police Day.

The military announced his resignation on February 11, 2011.

By late May 2011, judicial officials announced that Mubarak along with his two sons would stand trial over the deaths of anti-government protesters.

In 2012, he was found guilty of complicity in the murder of some of the demonstrators who took part in the wave of protests. He was sentenced along with his interior minister to life sentence.

In 2014, Mubarak was found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced to three years in prison.

He was convicted in 2015 along with his two sons of diverting public funds and using the money to upgrade family properties. They were sentenced to three years in jail.

In March 2017, Egypt’s top court upheld Mubarak acquittal and he went free, for the first time in six years.