Military general who ruled Egypt after Mubarak ouster dies at 85

Filed on September 21, 2021
AFP photo

Tantawi ran Egypt for 17 months until the country had its first democratically elected leader in 2012.

Hussein Tantawi — the Egyptian general who ruled the country after longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down — died on Tuesday, Egypt’s presidency said. He was 85.

Field Marshal Tantawi was Mubarak’s loyal defence minister for some 20 years. But it was Tantawi who led the country after the then-chief spy Omar Suliman announced on state television on February 11, 2011, that Mubarak was stepping down after the 18 days of protest against his government.

Tantawi went on to chair the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power. Under his leadership, the military strengthened its tight grip on the country, outlawing dissent, and largely returned to using the same tactics that were in place under Mubarak and that protesters had decried.

Born in October 1935, Tantawi, who suffered from age-related health problems in recent months, died in a hospital in Cairo, according to a person close to his family, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media.

His death came 19 months after Mubarak died in a Cairo military hospital in February last year.

Tantawi, appointed defence minister in 1991, ran Egypt for 17 months until the election in June 2012 of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader.

Morsi removed Tantawi and the country’s chief of staff, Sami Enan, in August that year, following a deadly militant attack in the Sinai Peninsula.

Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, now Egypt's president, was the head of the military intelligence at the time. Morsi named Al Sisi defense minister, replacing Tantawi, his longtime mentor. Al Sisi would eventually oversee Morsi’s removal from power in 2013, amid more street protests against the Islamist’s brief rule.

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