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In Cairo's Tahrir Square, reports that former President Hosni Mubarak is in critical condition and may be near death are being met with two reactions, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports:
-- Many Egyptians who have gathered there are saying, "It's about time, let him go."
-- But many others are wondering whether the generals who wield power in Egypt will use the news about Mubarak to further delay the country's already stuttering steps toward democracy — "to bamboozle the democratic process" even more, Soraya said on Morning Edition.
Word that the 84-year-old former leader has reportedly suffered a stroke or a heart attack or may even be in a coma comes on the eve of what is supposed to be the announcement about who won this past weekend's presidential election runoff. Both Islamist candidate Mohammed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, a former prime minister in the Mubarak regime, have claimed victory. But official results aren't supposed to be released until Thursday. (Update at 3:05 p.m. ET: See our note below — the announcement of results has been delayed.)
Mubarak is serving a life sentence for not stopping the killing of protesters during last year's Arab Spring uprising in Egypt. Now, "there is a lot of concern that the news [about Mubarak] is being used to ... continue delaying declaring a victor and dealing with the issue of having to dissolve parliament," Soraya says.
As for Mubarak, a key word to watch for in all reports about his condition is "reportedly." All information is being tightly controlled by those loyal to the ruling generals. Finding out for sure what's going on is virtually impossible.
Here's how some news outlets are summing up the story:
-- "He is said to have had a series of strokes and to be on a life support machine. Reports that he was 'clinically dead' were later denied. But there is no official statement." (BBC News)
-- "Hosni Mubarak, the deposed Egyptian leader, has been revived and is on an artificial respirator after he suffered stroke, sources in the interior ministry and from his family told Al Jazeera."
-- "There were conflicting reports about Mr. Mubarak's condition. Government officials and the state news agency initially said that Mr. Mubarak, 84, had suffered cardiac arrest and a stroke in prison and had been declared "clinically dead" after being taken to a military hospital overlooking the Nile. Other reports said he had been placed on life support. But by early Wednesday, an Interior Ministry spokesman said he was in critical condition but alive." (The New York Times)
We'll keep an eye on the news from Egypt and pass along highlights.
Update at 3:05 p.m. ET. No Results Thursday, Officials Say.
The AP reports that:
"Egypt's elections authorities say announcement of the winner of Egypt's presidential election will be delayed but gave no new date. The Supreme Elections Commission says in a statement Wednesday that results won't be announced on Thursday as scheduled because it is looking into complaints presented by rival candidates.
"A panel of judges has to look into some 400 complaints over voting submitted by both Ahmed Shafiq, ousted leader Hosni Mubarak's prime minister, and the Muslim Brotehrhood's candidate Mohammed Morsi's campaign."