Mubarak's sacrifices for Egypt, Africa will be remembered

Elias Hubbard
February 27, 2020

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's former autocrat who ruled for almost 30 years before being ensnared in the 2011 Arab Spring that swept through the region, died Tuesday at 91, Egypt state TV reported.

Under Mubarak's 30-year rule, Egyptians lived under emergency laws that gave sweeping powers to the country's security agencies.

He compared Mubarak's fate with those of other autocratic Arab rulers in Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Tunisia, writing that "his end was unlike Kadhafi, Ali Abdullah Saleh or Saddam Hussein".

The acquittal stunned many Egyptians, thousands of whom poured into central Cairo to show their anger against the court. USA administrations considered him a force for peace and stability in the Middle East.

Mubarak was jailed for years after the uprising, but was freed in 2017 after being acquitted of most charges. Mubarak was forced to step down 18 days later. When Anwar Sadat made Mubarak his vice-president, in 1975, it was not for his leadership qualities but for the absence of those qualities: the career army officer, without any obvious charm or political base, and hampered by his famously unsophisticated accent. The Soviet-trained fighter pilot with a life-long love for aviator sunglasses commanded Egypt's air force during the 1973 war with Israel.

Mubarak, born in May 1928, was vice president on October 14, 1981 when his mentor, President Anwar Sadat, was assassinated by Islamic extremists while reviewing a military parade.

Mubarak was the fourth president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, which was founded in 1952 when the military overthrew the monarchy.

His death was announced on Tuesday by state TV.

A statement from Abbas's office said he mourned the death "with great sorrow" and hailed the "late president's positions in support of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people in achieving their freedom and independence". His supporters blamed explosive population growth and the economic mismanagement of past administrations for the ills of a nation that grew to 85 million people by the time of Mubarak's ouster.

Mubarak never officially designated anyone as his likely successor, only appointing intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as vice-president in January 2011 in a bid to diffuse mounting protests. They also compared his treatment to that of his ousted successor, Mohammed Morsi, who died past year while in court and was buried overnight with only a few members of his family in attendance.

Some experts say Mubarak missed chances to reform Egypt's government.

His conviction was overturned by Egypt's highest appeals court in March 2017.

But in the years since, many Egyptians' aversion to Mubarak has gradually given way to indifference mixed with nostalgia, and many now remember his rule as a bygone period of stability.

For the man who was long untouchable - even a word of criticism against him in the media was forbidden for much of his rule - prison was a shock.

Mubarak is survived by his wife, Suzanne, his two sons and four grandchildren.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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