Mubarak given up, wants to die in Sharm: Saudi official

Workers at Mubarak's palace plan 'Friday of Apology'


Egypt's ousted president has given up and wants to die in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where he has been living since a popular uprising ended his rule, a Saudi official said on Wednesday.

Hosni Mubarak, 82, has suffered from health problems in recent years and travelled to Germany for gall bladder surgery in March last year. Reports of a further decline have increased since he stepped down on Friday after three decades in power.

An official in Saudi Arabia said the kingdom had offered to host Mubarak but he was determined to see out his days in Egypt. Official confirmation could not immediately be obtained from the Saudi government.

"He is not dead but is not doing well at all and refuses to leave. Basically, he has given up and wants to die in Sharm," said the Saudi official, who asked not to be named.

Mubarak vowed to die in Egypt when he addressed the country's 80 million people last week while still clinging to power.

Mubarak spent more and more time at his residence in Sharm el-Sheikh near the end of his time as leader, retreating to the clean air and sea breeze to recover from ailments.

Across the sea, visitors can see the shores of Saudi Arabia, where Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled after he was toppled last month.

Mubarak started taking telephone calls in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, said a source who spoke to him on Tuesday, after speculations about his health swirled since he was forced to step down on Friday.

"He's fine," the source said. "He is at his residence in Sharm al-Sheikh with his family. He is receiving telephone calls. I spoke to him this afternoon."

The Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat reported earlier on Tuesday that Mubarak was ailing and had refused to travel abroad for treatment.

A number of Egyptian newspapers on Monday quoted well-informed sources saying that Mubarak went into a full coma on Saturday night at his Sharm al-Sheikh residence.

"What is certain is that his state of health is declining drastically. In addition there is information that he is refusing to receive the required medical treatment," Asharq al-Awsat said in its Tuesday online edition, quoting a former security official affiliated to the Egyptian military high command.

A military source told Reuters Mubarak was "breathing" but would not give details about his status. Another Egyptian source with links to the family said he was not well.

The Higher Military Council took over Egypt when Mubarak resigned on Friday following an 18-day revolt against him.

Asharq al-Awsat said Mubarak, 82, had refused advice to travel to Germany for treatment, quoting its source as saying: "He has asked those around him to allow him to die in his country, and I believe this is just a matter of time."

Mubarak underwent gallbladder surgery in Germany last year. Rumours about his health have been rife since then.

While still clinging to office, Mubarak said in his final speeches to the nation that he wanted to die in Egypt.

'Friday of Apology'

Employees and workers at the Cairo presidential palace, meanwhile, have agreed to organize a protest next Friday under the title 'Friday of Apology', to which they plan to invite their relatives and friends as well as many of the supporters of former president Mubarak, Egypt's al-Wafd opposition newspaper reported on Tuesday.

They plan to hold signs and placards on which they would apologize to the former president for the insults directed at him and his family during demonstrations that kicked off nationwide on Jan. 25 and ended dramatically by the stepping down of Mubarak.

One of the organizers told al-Wafd that the aim of the protest has nothing to do with the revolution or its goals, but it only aims at criticizing the insults directed to Mubarak, who was supposed to be a symbol of the nation and shouldn't be insulted in such a humiliating manner.

Some of the signs and placards, according to al-Wafd, would be carried by children and would read 'Sorry Grandpa' – in reference to Mubarak – written in several languages so that it would be understandable to the whole world. Other signs would read 'No to insulting Egypt's symbols' and 'Leader of the first airstrike…forgive us' – in reference to the first air strike led by Mubarak in the 1973 victorious war against Israel.

One of the organizers told al-Wafd that some Egyptian superstars would be invited to join the protest.