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Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak dies at 91

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president for almost 30 years who stepped down after a popular revolution in 2011, has died. He was 91. Mubarak served as Egypt’s fourth president starting in 1981 until his removal in what became known as the Arab Spring revolution.  More: Obituary: Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s longest-serving president Egypt: Court upholds Mubarak and…

Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak dies at 91

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president for almost 30 years who stepped down after a popular revolution in 2011, has died. He was 91.
Mubarak served as Egypt’s fourth president starting in 1981 until his removal in what became known as the Arab Spring revolution. 
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Obituary: Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s longest-serving president

Egypt: Court upholds Mubarak and sons’ corruption convictions

Mubarak walks free after six-year detention in Egypt

He was jailed for years after the uprising, but was freed in 2017 after being acquitted of most charges. The acquittal stunned many Egyptians, thousands of whom poured into central Cairo to show their anger against the court.
The Arab Spring protests convulsed regimes across the Middle East.
State television said Mubarak died at a Cairo hospital where he had undergone an unspecified surgery. The report said he had health complications but offered no other details. One of his sons, Alaa, announced over the weekend the former president was in an intensive care after undergoing surgery.
His brother-in-law, General Mounir Thabet, told AFP news agency he passed away at Cairo’s Galaa military hospital.
Egypt’s presidency said in a statement that it mourned Mubarak’s death as a “military leader and war hero” and has offered its condolences to his family.
The former air force officer will be buried in a military funeral but the timing was still unclear, a military source told Reuters news agency.

Complicated legacy
Throughout his rule, Mubarak was a stalwart United States ally, a bulwark against armed groups, and guardian of Egypt’s peace with Israel.
But to the tens of thousands of young Egyptians who rallied for 18 days of unprecedented street protests in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and elsewhere in 2011, Mubarak was a relic, a latter-day pharaoh.
Al Jazeera’s Jamal al-Shayyal, reporting from Tunis, Tunisia, where the Arab Spring originated, said it was unclear what exactly killed the former leader.
“What we’re looking at now is a statesman who was so controversial in the past three-four decades of Egypt’s history. It was under his rule that Egypt became more corrupt. It was under his rule that the infrastructure in the country reached a demise,” he said.
“For sure his passing is something that will remind people of the situation in Egypt as well as the political legacy that he left behind, which is one that has allowed for the current military regime to continue in its ruling.”
National hero
Mubarak was born in a rural village in the Nile Delta on May 4, 1928. He left behind a complicated legacy as his rule was partly characterised by corruption, police brutality, political repression, and entrenched economic problems.
The former president had long maintained his innocence and said history would judge him a patriot who served his country selflessly.
He joined the Egyptian air force in 1949, graduating as a pilot the following year. He rose through the ranks to become the commander-in-chief of the Egyptian air force in 1972.
Mubarak became a national hero the following year with reports that the Egyptian air force dealt a substantial blow to Israeli forces in Sinai during the Yom Kippur War. 
Mubarak was vice president on October 14, 1981, when his mentor, President Anwar Sadat, was assassinated by fighters while reviewing a military parade.
Seated next to Sadat, Mubarak escaped with a minor hand injury as gunmen sprayed the reviewing stand with bullets. Eight days later, the brawny former air force commander was sworn in as president, promising continuity and order.
His harsh stance on security enabled him to maintain the peace treaty with Israel. Under his rule, Egypt remained a key US ally in the region – receiving $1.3bn a year in US military aid by 2011. 

Crony capitalism
Mubarak had been sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for conspiring to murder 239 demonstrators during the 18-day revolt.
An appeals court ordered a retrial and the case against Mubarak and his senior officials was dropped. He was finally acquitted in 2017.
He was however convicted in 2015 along with his two sons of diverting public funds and using the money to upgrade family properties. They were sentenced to three years in jail.
Since his arrest in April 2011, Mubarak spent the nearly six years in jail in hospitals. Following his release, he was taken to an apartment in Cairo’s Heliopolis district.
Many Egyptians who lived through Mubarak’s time in power view it as “a period of autocracy and crony capitalism”. His overthrow led to Egypt’s first free election, which brought in President Mohamed Morsi.
Morsi lasted only a year in office after mass protests in 2013 led to his overthrow by then defence chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is now president.
Mubarak-era figures, meanwhile, are gradually being cleared of charges, and laws limiting political freedoms have raised fears among activists that the old regime is back.
Over the years, Mubarak tinkered with reform but shunned significant change, presenting himself as Egypt’s sole protection against militancy and sectarian division. The US tried pushing him harder for reforms, but succeeded only in alienating him. Fearful of losing its alliance with the most powerful Arab country, Washington backed off.
But the failure to fulfil repeated promises of change steadily deepened public despair, and those seeking a democratic future were dismayed to see Mubarak making apparent moves to set up a dynastic succession in the shape of his businessman son, Gamal.
Mubarak is survived by his wife, Suzanne, and his sons, Gamal and Alaa.
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Egypt’s prisons under ‘strict information lockdown’: HRW |NationalTribune.com

Rights groups and the UN have made numerous calls since the coronavirus outbreak for Egypt to improve conditions for prisoners, but the country has done little to address the crisis, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says. At least 14 prisoners and detainees have died in Egypt, most likely from COVID-19 complications in 10 detention facilities as of…

Egypt’s prisons under ‘strict information lockdown’: HRW |NationalTribune.com

Rights groups and the UN have made numerous calls since the coronavirus outbreak for Egypt to improve conditions for prisoners, but the country has done little to address the crisis, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.
At least 14 prisoners and detainees have died in Egypt, most likely from COVID-19 complications in 10 detention facilities as of July 15, according to HRW’s latest report published on Monday.
Prisoners have shown COVID-19 symptoms, but have had insufficient medical care and no access to testing. Authorities have done little to isolate prisoners who show symptoms and have further imposed a strict information blackout amid the pandemic, the New York-based rights group said.
Last week, Egyptian journalist Mohamed Monir, 65, died after contracting the coronavirus during the two weeks he spent in pretrial detention at Cairo’s notorious Tora prison.
The veteran journalist was arrested in June on charges of joining “a terrorist group”, spreading false news, and misusing social media after appearing on Al Jazeera Media Network, which is banned by Egypt.
Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein has spent more than 1,307 days in prison without trial.
An Egyptian national, Hussein was arrested in December 2016 on “dubious charges”, according to HRW, shortly after his arrival in Egypt on a personal visit.
Last year, an Egyptian court rejected an order by the state prosecutor to release him. He remains detained in Tora Tahqiq prison, one of Egypt’s most infamous facilities, under inhumane conditions.

Amr Magdi, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera that, so far, three inmates have died of COVID-19 in Tora Tahqiq prison, as well as a prison employee.
“This is very concerning,” Magdi said. “We still call for [Hussein’s] immediate release, and it is extremely outrageous that he has even exceeded the two-year limit for pretrial detention in Egyptian law, which is already abusive.
“Egyptian authorities don’t just disrespect international norms, they even [violate] their own abusive laws,” Magdi said.
According to the Geneva-based Committee for Justice, there are 149 suspected cases of coronavirus in Egyptian prisons and detention facilities.
Prisoners released
In May, the World Health Organization released a joint statement with UN agencies stating the “health response to COVID-19 in closed settings alone is insufficient” and urged governments to consider prisoner releases.
A month prior, the UN urged Egypt to release prisoners “convicted of non-violent offences and those who are in pretrial detention who make up just below one-third of those in jail”.
It noted Egypt’s detention facilities are often overcrowded, unhygienic and lack resources.
Official records show Egyptian authorities have released about 13,000 prisoners since late February, but that number is not enough to ease overcrowding, according to HRW.
Among the prisoners freed, some include those convicted of murder and other serious crimes.

“They have released several thousand prisoners, but these tend to be people who have a short time left to serve in their sentences,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, told Al Jazeera.
“What is most notable is that these releases did not include any of the people arrested on political grounds and who are particularly the ones who have not been tried. We know people who have been … in custody under so-called investigation for months and months.
“They haven’t been accused of anything, haven’t been charged with anything, they’ve had no trial. Notably, none of them, or very few of them, have been released,” Stark said.
“Clearly, [the Egyptian authorities] are not listening.”
‘Strict information lockdown’
According to international human rights law, prisoners should receive the same standard of healthcare that is available in the community.
Egyptian prison laws also state that prison doctors must protect inmates from “epidemic diseases”, including providing medical quarantine and to immediately inform a prisoner’s family in case of serious illness.
But a prisoner at the Tora Tahqiq prison told HRW the protection measures taken by authorities were merely “decorative”.
In March, the prison administration offered PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests for two inmates only, and no other tests were provided even though several prisoners developed a respiratory illness.
Since a ban on prison visits was implemented on March 10, thousands of inmates have been kept in incommunicado detention with little if any communication with lawyers and family members, as part of an “information blackout”, according to the report by HRW.
“There are some notable cases of brothers and sisters going to get news of the health of their loved one in prison and not being able to get any information,” Stark said.
“There’s a very strict information lockdown … Egyptian authorities have been behaving very badly.”

Over the years, Egypt has developed a track record for its lack of judicial or independent oversight.
HRW noted since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power in 2013 in a coup, most likely hundreds of prisoners have died in detention, many following torture or inadequate care.
But despite the warnings issued by the UN and rights groups, countries worldwide have done little to apply pressure on Egypt to comply with international law.
“We haven’t seen too much interest on the part of other countries – the US, Italy, Germany, France, UK – countries that have big arms deals with the Egyptian military,” Stark said.
“So far, I’m not aware of them making any efforts in this area.”
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Egypt’s el-Sisi orders army to be ready for missions abroad |NationalTribune.com

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has ordered his army to be ready to carry out any mission inside or outside the country to protect its national security amid tensions over Turkey’s intervention in neighbouring Libya.He also warned forces loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli not to cross the current…

Egypt’s el-Sisi orders army to be ready for missions abroad |NationalTribune.com

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has ordered his army to be ready to carry out any mission inside or outside the country to protect its national security amid tensions over Turkey’s intervention in neighbouring Libya.He also warned forces loyal to the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli not to cross the current front line with renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).
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Libya: Haftar’s forces ‘slow down’ GNA advance on Sirte

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UN says Libya’s warring parties engaged in ‘productive’ talks

Turkey supports the GNA, which, with Turkish support, has reversed a 14-month assault on the capital by the LNA.
The LNA is backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
El-Sisi on Saturday toured an airbase near Egypt’s 1,200km-long (746 miles) western border with Libya, where state television showed him watching fighter jets and helicopters taking off.
“Be prepared to carry out any mission, here inside our borders – or if necessary, outside our borders,” he told air force pilots and special forces personnel at the base.
He said the Egyptian army was “one of the strongest in the region”, adding: “It is a rational army; an army that protects and does not threaten … this is our strategy, our beliefs and our principles that we will never change.”
He also said Egypt did not want to intervene in Libya and generally favoured a political solution, but added that “the situation now is different”.
“If some people think that they can cross the Sirte-Jufra front line, this is a red line for us,” he said before an audience that included some Libyan tribal leaders.
“If the Libyan people moved through you and asked us to intervene, this would be a signal to the world that Egypt and Libya are one country, one interest,” he added.

Fighters loyal to the GNA have recently reversed Haftar’s advance on the capital, Tripoli [File: EPA]

Turkey urges Haftar withdrawal
Meanwhile, Turkey said on Saturday that Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya needed to withdraw from the strategic city of Sirte for a lasting ceasefire.
Ibrahim Kalin, the presidential spokesman, told the AFP news agency that Sirte and Al-Jufra should be evacuated by Haftar’s forces for a “sustainable ceasefire”.
Kalin said a ceasefire in Libya would be possible if everybody went back to their positions in 2015, referring to an agreement reached that year.
He warned against a rushed truce, saying: “A rushed, premature ceasefire will not lead to what we want to achieve for all Libyans there.”

Earlier this month, Egypt called for a ceasefire in Libya as part of an initiative which also proposed an elected leadership council for the country.
The United States, Russia and the UAE welcomed the plan. Germany said United Nations-backed talks were key to the peace process.
However, Turkey dismissed the proposal as an attempt to save Haftar following a string of losses on the battlefield.
Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed 2011 uprising toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi only to leave rival militias fighting for control of the country’s oil wealth and drawing in international powers as the conflict has ebbed and flowed.
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Egypt’s one-day coronavirus infections at new high: Live updates |NationalTribune.com

Egypt’s Health Ministry has announced 1,677 new confirmed cases of coronavirus – the highest 24-hour infection total since the virus was first detected in the country in mid-February. African leaders say China will ensure the supply of 30 million testing kits and 10,000 ventilators each month for the African continent as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates…

Egypt’s one-day coronavirus infections at new high: Live updates |NationalTribune.com

Egypt’s Health Ministry has announced 1,677 new confirmed cases of coronavirus – the highest 24-hour infection total since the virus was first detected in the country in mid-February.

African leaders say China will ensure the supply of 30 million testing kits and 10,000 ventilators each month for the African continent as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates there.

Brazil became the country with the second-highest coronavirus death toll in the world with 42,720 fatalities, surpassing the death toll of the United Kingdom and second only to the United States.

More than 7.75 million people have now been confirmed to have the coronavirus, and at least 429,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Here are the latest updates:
Sunday, June 14
00:05 GMT – Ukraine records highest daily count for third day in a row 
Ukraine has recorded its highest daily count of new coronavirus infections for the third day in a row, more than double the count earlier in the month.
The health ministry on Saturday reported 753 new cases, compared with 683 the previous day.
In early June, Ukraine was recording fewer than 350 new cases a day. Overall, Ukraine counts 30,506 confirmed infection cases and 880 deaths.
00:01 GMT – Egypt’s one-day coronavirus infections at new high
Egypt’s Health Ministry has announced 1,677 new confirmed cases of coronavirus – the highest 24-hour infection total since the virus was first detected in the country in mid-February, according to The Associated Press news agency.
The ministry also reported 62 deaths from COVID-19, the disease that can be caused by the virus.
The figures raise Egypt’s coronavirus totals to 1,484 deaths and 42,980 confirmed cases. The ministry says 11,529 patients have been discharged from quarantine after their recovery.
Egypt is the Arab world’s most populous country, and it has the highest death rate from COVID-19 among Arab nations. It ranks third in the Middle East after Iran and Turkey.
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Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
You can find all the developments from yesterday, June 13, here.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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