Talk of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's ill health swirled on Wednesday, after the state news agency bluntly declared that he was "clinically dead." Mubarak was moved from his prison hospital to a Cairo military hospital Tuesday night where he is believed to be in critical condition.
Many questioned the veracity of the reports due to innumerable times he has been declared dead in recent years, as well as the timing. Tens of thousands flocked to Tahrir Square on Tuesday night to support the projected victor of the weekend's historic election, Mohammed Morsi, and express their anger with the ruling military council which on Sunday released a constitutional declaration slowing ? if not halting altogether ? the promised transition to civilian rule.
Egypt's Interior Ministry told ABC News that Mubarak is "under observation," declining to elaborate. State-run newspaper Al Ahram said Mubarak was not in a deep coma, as had been reported, while his lawyer told the independent Al Masry al Youm that the former president had fluid in his lungs and low blood pressure.
A small group emotional supporters gathered outside the hospital in Maadi, holding posters of Mubarak. One young man lay on his back on the sidewalk with a scrapbook full of photos and press clippings while two women nearby wept as they spoke of their admiration for Mubarak.
"We are still loving Mubarak, Mubarak is still our hero," said Osama al-Sokari. "Mubarak is like a star in Egypt's sky."
Sokari wore a lapel pin with the portrait of Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister and one of the two candidates in last weekend's presidential election.
On Tuesday, Shafiq's campaign declared victory in the region's first competitive presidential election, saying he won with 51.5% of the vote. But Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, is the widely-projected winner by just under one million votes. Morsi's campaign claimed victory just hours after the polls closed on Sunday and has been releasing detailed vote counts that in past elections have proved very accurate.
Official tallies are expected on Thursday, but before then the Supreme Presidential Election Commission has to settle some 400 registered complaints, including around 250 from the campaigns themselves.
Shortly after voting ended Sunday night, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces issued a constitutional declaration guaranteeing them wide-ranging powers under the next president. That followed a court ruling last Thursday that declared that part of the lower house of parliament was elected unconstitutionally, and it was consequently dissolved.
The military council's supplementary document stipulated that the president would not be commander-in-chief, that he would need SCAF's approval to declare war. SCAF would oversee the budget and propose laws as the legislative branch until a new parliament is voted in. That wouldn't happen until a new constitution is written, they said, reserving the right to take any objectionable articles in the new constitution - which has yet to be written ? to the Mubarak-named constitutional court.
On Monday, they tried to soften the impression they were refusing to hand over power by saying the president had veto power over new laws proposed and could nominate his own cabinet. But they later named a top general as the president's chief-of-staff.