By HAMZA HENDAWI
Hosni Mubarak was in a coma on Wednesday but off life support and his heart and other vital organs were functioning, according to security officials.
Overnight, state media reported that the 84-year old former president, ousted in last year’s uprising and now serving a life sentence in prison, suffered a stroke and was put on life support. He was transferred to a military hospital from the Cairo prison hospital where he has been kept since his June 2 conviction and sentencing for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the uprising.
His wife Suzanne was by his side in the Nile-side hospital in Maadi, a suburb just south of Cairo. The security officials said a team of 15 doctors, including heart, blood and brain specialists, was supervising the condition of Mubarak, who needed help with his breathing. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Mubarak’s health scare comes at a time of heightened tension in Egypt. Both candidates in a fiercely contested presidential runoff held last weekend are claiming victory. At the same time, the ruling military council that took over from Mubarak moved to tighten its grip on power a little more than a week before they were supposed to transfer complete authority to an elected civilian administration.
The ruling generals stripped the next president of many of his powers in a declaration made just as polls closed in the runoff late Sunday night. With the decree, they gave themselves control over the drafting a new constitution and declared themselves the country’s legislative power after a court last week dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament which was freely elected about six months earlier.
The runoff pitted Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq against conservative Islamist Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. The contest divided the country and their rival claims of victory could bring more of the turmoil that has rocked the country since Mubarak’s ouster.
Mubarak was convicted of failing to prevent the killing of some 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising that forced him out of office on Feb. 11, 2011. He and his two sons, onetime heir apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa, were acquitted of corruption charges. But the two sons are held in Torah awaiting trial on charges of insider trading.
The two were by their father’s side at the Torah prison hospital, but the officials said prison authorities refused their request to accompany him to the Maadi military hospital.