21 Jun 2012

Hosni Mubarak on life support

5:31 am on 21 June 2012

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak is in a coma on life support in a Cairo hospital as tension spikes over who will succeed him as president, with both candidates in a presidential vote claiming victory.

The Muslim Brotherhood claims its candidate Mohammed Mursi won the run-off vote, saying it has certified copies of ballot tallies to bolster its claims.

But his rival Ahmed Shafiq, Mr Mubarak's last prime minister, also claimed victory, with his campaign accusing the Brotherhood of issuing false figures.

Oficial results are due out on Thursday.

In the meantime, the country's electoral committee is about to begin looking into appeals filed by both sides.

The dispute comes as the ruling military Supreme Council granted itself sweeping powers, a move that provoked a protest by tens of thousands of people in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Mr Mubarak, 84, ruled Egypt for three decades until he was unseated by a popular uprising.

He was sentenced to life in prison on 2 June for his role in the deaths of protesters.

Mr Mubarak had been held in the intensive care unit at Tora prison since his sentence.

Initially on Tuesday state news agency MENA, quoting medical sources, said Mr Mubarak was clinically dead. His heart had stopped beating and he could not be revived. That description was used also to Reuters by a hospital source.

However ruling military council member General Said Abbas said Mr Mubarak had suffered a stroke, but that talk of him being clinically dead was "nonsense."

Another military source said the former president was unconscious and on artificial respiration.

MENA, again citing medical sources, later said a medical team was still trying treat a blood clot on the brain.