Confusion and conspiracy swirl around the health of Hosni Mubarak as some Egyptians question the timing of the developments and whether the details of the former president’s health are being manipulated ahead of a looming political showdown between the country’s ruling military and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a span of 12 hours, Mr. Mubarak’s status shifted from being clinically dead to being taken off life support – and if the latest unnamed source is to be believed, the 84-year-old is, in fact, no longer in a deep coma.
Even with news that Mr. Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne, is at his side, it is, in fact, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces who are likely calling the shots when it comes to their former boss and his treatment, including the decision to move him from the prison facility to the more comfortable military hospital where he is being attended to by 15 medical specialists.
Official details about Mr. Mubarak are few. Instead murky and conflicting reports continue to grow.
An Al Jazeera journalist, quoting Arabic language media, reports that Mr. Mubarak suffered a “deep gash” on his forehead after passing out; and that his sons, being held in a prison, had “meltdowns” over their father’s condition.
There are also rumours of a possible curfew and delay in Thursday’s announcement of the presidential run-off results if Mr. Mubarak’s situation were to deteriorate.
The fear of many Egyptians is that the military council will use Mr. Mubarak’s health crisis to delay the democratic transition.
Public skepticism around the actual facts of Mr. Mubarak’s health will likely translate in to doubts about the actual outcome of the contest between the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi and the former Mubarak-era minister Ahmed Shafiq.
“At times when you need confirmation either way there is no official trusted source of the requisite information,” writes a Guardian newspaper correspondent.
“That’s what happened with the Mubarak ’death’, and that’s pretty much what happens with every incident that occurs in Egypt. The decision of the presidential election commission is binding ... But there will always be doubts cast on the results.”
With unofficial reports indicating the Muslim Brotherhood candidate with a slight lead over his rival in the presidential run-off, there are concerns that the Egyptian military – which earlier this week gave itself increased powers over the new president and the drafting of a new constitution – will remain the most powerful institution even as it promises to meet its deadline to hand over power to civilian rule by month’s end.
“We’re back at square one,” Hussein Ibrahim, a Muslim Brotherhood senior official and former member of the elected parliament that was dissolved last week, told Reuters.
“After Egyptians waited for the election of a new president to end the transitional period, we discovered that by electing a new president we are restarting the transitional period.”