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Egypt TV: Ex-President Mubarak Is On Life Support


This MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is in an intensive care unit in a military hospital in Cairo. The 84-year-old Mubarak suffered cardiac arrest and a stroke while in prison, according to Egypt's state TV. He was moved to the hospital last night and latest reports are that his condition may be improving. Meanwhile, Egyptians are waiting to get the results of a controversial presidential runoff election, between Mubarak's last prime minister and a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

For more, we turn to NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson who is in Cairo. Good morning.


MONTAGNE: Bring us up to date on Mubarak. What is his condition, as you understand it, at this hour?

NELSON: Well, he seems to have stabilized. I probably shouldn't use the word improving, but it seems like a lot of the very dire descriptions that were going on earlier have vanished. He's apparently off life support. He's said to be in a coma. And this is according to official sources - or official sources of media here. We haven't had an official government statement yet, if you will. Basically, he seems to be in a better position than he was some hours back. There's a lawmaker who's very close to the ruling generals - or should I say former lawmaker, since parliament was dissolved. His name is Mustafa Bakri, and he was saying that he, in fact, was slipping in and out of consciousness, so that he's not even completely unconscious anymore

MONTAGNE: And let's get to the presidential election, the runoff. Votes are expected tomorrow, and that has been a little bit confusing. At first the candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood claimed and seemed to be the winner. What's happening today?

NELSON: Well, you still have both campaigns that, as you mentioned, a Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi's campaign, as well as that of Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under Mubarak - both of them claiming that they got 52 percent of the vote. Which, obviously, can't be correct. So the count is still going on, but apparently there are a lot of violations or a lot of appeals that are being examined. Something in the area of three or four hundred is what we've been hearing. And so there's some suggestion they may actually delay the official results beyond tomorrow. There's been - again, been no official announcement about that. But the fact that there's discussion about how difficult it is to do these investigations suggest that there may be a delay.

MONTAGNE: And this runoff for the presidency comes in the context of the military, that is, the ruling military council taking many of the powers of the presidency for itself.

NELSON: Absolutely. It's been a very strange week in that sense. First the court - I should say the high constitutional court dissolved the parliament. And, of course, those judges were appointed during the Mubarak era. And then you had the ruling generals saying, OK, we're going to leave June 30th, even though there's no new constitution in place. But, we're going to share legislative authority with the president, and we're going to have or retain a say in a variety of issues, including what they do and their budgets, and that sort of thing. And even a declaration of war would be something that would require the general's sign off before the president could put it into effect.

MONTAGNE: Well, is there any sense that Hosni Mubarak's return to the news, and his ill health could impact, either the election results or what the military does?

NELSON: Well, interestingly enough, the people we've talked to on the street say, who cares? This guy is irrelevant. He was in prison after being convicted of having a role in the deaths of protestors during the revolution, he had a life sentence. Why do we care whether he dies or lives or goes - it really should have no impact. But the fear is that the generals might use this as a - as a pretext to try to retain further control. That's the fear. There's certainly been no official announcement of that. But it is a legitimate fear, given all the actions the military has performed this week.

MONTAGNE: Soraya, thanks very much.

NELSON: You're welcome, Renee.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson speaking to us from Cairo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at NPR.org. From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.
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