Former Egyptian president Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, arrested for his role in curbing 2011 uprising, was released last week.
Background of Mohamed Hosni Mubarak
Vice-President under predecessor Anwar el-Sadat, the 88-year-old Mubarak was president for three decades since 1981. A general in the Egyptian Air Force until the mid-1970s, Mr. Mubarak exercised phenomenal control over the military, a critical factor in his consolidation of authority.
What led to his arrest?
In February 2005, Mr. Mubarak asked Parliament to amend the Constitution, with a view to introducing a directly elected multi-party presidential system through a secret ballot.
The changeover to competitive polls was approved by the people in a referendum in May. In September of the same year, Mr. Mubarak won a fifth six-year term as President in the nation’s historic first multi-cornered contest for the highest constitutional office. Within months of his re-election, Mr. Mubarak declared his intention to remain President for life.
At the end of the 2011 mass protests, in the so-called 18-day uprising against his rule, Mr. Mubarak eventually handed over power to the military. The deaths of scores of protesters led to his detention and the beginning of protracted legal battles.
Why is he out of prison?
This March, Egypt’s top appeals court cleared Mr. Mubarak of any responsibility for the killings of hundreds of protesters in the uprising. The original conviction and sentence of life imprisonment the following year stated that Mr. Mubarak was merely an accessory to the murder, in so far as he failed to stop the massacre.
There have been many twists and turns in the trial of Mr. Mubarak, culminating in his recent release.
The course of the entire proceedings raised serious questions about the independence of the judiciary. While Mr. Mubarak and others in his close circle have all been acquitted, the lawyers, journalists and activists who challenged the regime are still in jail. The military has returned to its pre-eminent position.
What is the future in Egypt?
Incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seized power in 2013, when he was still a general, toppling Egypt’s first democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi. The then U.S. President, Barack Obama, had briefly halted defence cooperation with Cairo following the ouster of Mr. Morsi.
But the Donald Trump administration has recently assured its long-standing regional ally for revival of military ties. The general scenario points to further consolidation of Mr. Sisi’s position. However, the 2018 presidential elections could prove a crucial test of his authority.