Thu, Jul 28, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Mubarak refusing food, ‘extremely weak’: report

COOPERATION:Top reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei called for the formation of a broad coalition of political forces to contest the first polls since Mubarak’s ouster

AFP and AP, CAIRO

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, due to go on trial next week for murder, is refusing food in his hospital detention and has become extremely weak, state media reported yesterday.

Mubarak, 83, has been detained since April on charges of ordering the killings of anti-regime protesters and corruption. He is under arrest in a Red Sea resort hospital, where he receives treatment for a heart condition.

‘MALINGERING’

His health, the topic of much speculation as critics accuse him of malingering to avoid trial, is “extremely weak,” the official al-Gomhuria newspaper reported, citing a hospital official.

He “completely abstains from food and intakes only some liquids and juices,” the newspaper quoted Mohammed Fathallah, head of the hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh, as saying.

Mubarak is scheduled to stand trial on Wednesday next week with his two sons, his former interior minister Habib al-Adli and six police commanders.

The location of the trial has not yet been announced, but judicial and security sources say it will probably be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, a popular tourist resort where Mubarak resided after a revolt ousted him in February.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s top reform leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, has called for the formation of a broad coalition of political forces, including the Islamists, to contest the first elections since Mubarak’s ouster.

Tuesday’s call by the Nobel Peace laureate, whose supporters were credited as a key force behind Egypt’s uprising, reflected growing concerns of liberal groups about a big win for the well-organized Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. That would give the Islamists power to control the drafting of a new constitution.

COMPETITION

“We don’t have the luxury today to enter into fierce competition between the different streams, especially when we are building the house from the start,” ElBaradei told a news conference.

“I talked today and before about the need for a national coalition. At this stage, there must be a parliament that represents all Egyptian forces,” he said.

No date has been set for parliamentary elections, but they are expected before the end of the year, followed by a presidential vote. The political factions and military rulers who replaced Mubarak in February are sharply divided over how to proceed with the transition to democracy.

A broad coalition of the political forces that worked to oust Mubarak could also be a response to growing fears that former regime figures may make a strong showing in the vote under a new election law which leaves room for vote buying.

ElBaradei, a potential presidential candidate, also appealed to the military rulers to reverse their rejection of international monitors for the elections.

GLOBAL MONITORS

“I don’t know of any democratic country that rejects international monitors,” he said.

ElBaradei has been meeting with various political groups to build a national consensus. He is advocating a broad-based alliance to ensure the Egyptian parliament fairly represents many of the new parties, dominated by younger activists. Such a coalition could lay the groundwork for a future power-sharing agreement that would be widely representative and prevent the return of former regime figures to politics.

The idea is already accepted by the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood, which has already been working to form alliances with various parties. It may be a harder sell for the liberal and leftists parties, who fear running on the same ticket as the Islamists may compromise their principles and will leave them with a small share in the parliament.

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