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Uncertainty Over Mubarak's Health Stokes Egypt Tensions

Former President Hosni Mubarak sits inside a cage in a courtroom in Cairo during sentencing on June 2.
Egyptians, already on edge after the dissolving of an elected parliament and awaiting official results of recent presidential election, are expressing skepticism about information on the health of ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.

The 84-year-old Mubarak is reportedly in a coma, but life-support systems for his heart and other organs have been removed.

State media reported overnight that Mubarak had suffered a stroke and was placed on life support, leading to speculation that the former leader, who has been serving a life sentence in Tora Prison near Cairo, was dead.

Some have accused the military of over-publicizing the issue of Mubarak's health to distract attention from last week's decision to annul results of the winter's parliamentary elections, where the Muslim Brotherhood won the most seats.

Mubarak was sentenced on June 2 to life in prison for his role in the killing of demonstrators who helped overthrow him during last year's Arab Spring revolution.

Mubarak has been portrayed as being in poor health by officials for the past year. He was wheeled in to court during his trial on a hospital stretcher.

The conflicting reports on the health of Mubarak come amid high tension over the election of a new, civilian president.

Mubarak's long-time Islamist adversaries in the Muslim Brotherhood say their candidate won the weekend runoff against a former general.

But the result is still unknown.

The election commission is to announce the official final results on June 21, and either way the loser is likely to reject the result.

Thousands of Egyptians have heeded the call of the Muslim Brotherhood to protest on Cairo's Tahrir Square, the focal point of the country's Arab Spring uprising.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters