Mubarak dies

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Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for 30 years until he was ousted in a popular uprising against corruption and autocracy, died on Tuesday at the age of 91.

A partner of the West in fighting Islamists, Mubarak presided over an era of stagnation and repression at home and was an early victim of the “Arab Spring” revolutions that swept the region.

He died in intensive care after undergoing surgery. Egypt’s presidency and armed forces mourned him as a hero for his role in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the former air force officer will be given a military funeral.

Three days of public mourning were declared and state television played clips of Mubarak with a black ribbon at the corner of the screen.

Mubarak, arrested two months after being forced out by protesters in Tahrir Square in 2011, spent several years in jail and military hospitals.

He was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to murder 239 demonstrators during the 18-day revolt, but was freed in 2017 after being cleared.

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

Egyptians, who complained about corruption, oppression and unemployment under Mubarak, had mixed feelings about the former leader as news of his death spread.

“We have good and bad memories,” said Sherin Saad, a woman in her 30s, who criticised graft and privatisation of public firms, which critics say enriched the elite.

Atef Bayoumi in central Cairo said: “He was a patriot. Regardless of the final events, he surely did good things for the country.”

In contrast, Gamal Eid, a prominent human rights activist, said on Twitter: “My condolences to all tyrants, they lost one today!”

There was no immediate reaction from Western capitals, which valued Mubarak for preserving a peace treaty with Israel signed by his predecessor Anwar al-Sadat.

“On behalf of Israel’s citizens and government, I wish to express my deepest sorrow over the passing of President Hosni Mubarak,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “President Mubarak, a personal friend, was a leader who led his nation to peace and security.”

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

CRONY CAPITALISM

Mubarak did not leave the country after his overthrow, unlike Tunisia’s Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia after being ousted in the first Arab Spring protests.

In contrast, the Mubarak family stayed in Egypt but kept a low profile.

Mubarak always maintained his innocence and said history would judge him a patriot who served his country selflessly. For many Egyptians his time in power was a period of autocracy and crony capitalism.

His successor, Mohamed Mursi, lasted a year in office when mass protests in 2013 led to his overthrow by then defence chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, current president.

Mubarak-era figures are gradually being cleared of charges and laws limiting political freedoms raised fears among activists the old regime is back.

Many Egyptians credited Sisi for restoring stability, but activists say his relentless crackdown on dissent is worse than anything under Mubarak.

Announcing Mubarak’s death, Egyptian TV criticised him for economic mismanagement. New cities he created in the desert lacked a “comprehensive vision” while he spent billions on roads which government later had to repair.



Timothy Kaldas, non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, said the coverage sought to highlight corruption under Mubarak to curb nostalgia for his time in power.