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Mubarak Suffers Stroke as Egyptians Await Vote Count
June 20, 2012

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The situation in Egypt keeps getting more complex. As thousands of protesters gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square and international observers await the announcement of who will be the country's next president, Hosni Mubarak hovers near death, the victim of a stroke.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt with the strong support of the military and security forces who routinely detained and tortured prisoners and protesters, was last month sentenced to life in prison for complicity in the shooting of unarmed protesters last February. Mubarak, 84, suffered a stroke and was on life support for a time. At a military hospital in Cairo since the verdict, he is now in critical condition.

The issue of who will succeed Mubarak as president is fluid. Both candidates, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, have declared victory, and the military government has not issued an announcement of who actually got the most votes. The ruling generals have stripped the presidency of most its powers. In the absence of a written constitution, the military will hold onto legislative power, which they seized after dissolving Parliament, for perhaps several more months.

The Brotherhood and fellow Islamists the Salafis won the majority of seats in both houses of Parliament in January elections. Parliament had sat and had passed a few laws, but the process of enforcing those laws was complicated by the absence of a president and constitution, which was voided by the ruling generals, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, when Mubarak left. Frustrated by a lack of progress in forming a panel to write the new constitution, SCAF announced last week that it would appoint members to the constitution-writing panel.

A new constitution would need to be approved by referendum, which could take several more weeks. New members of Parliament would need to be elected. Once all of that is done, the military would then hand over power to President and Parliament. How long that takes is anyone's guess.

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