Mubarak defends legacy and claims to be victim of defamation


EGYPT’S OUSTED president Hosni Mubarak said yesterday he was a victim of defamation and he threatened to sue anyone who had accused him of abuse of power and corruption.

In his first interview since he resigned on February 11th, Mr Mubarak said he and his family had been targeted by “unjust campaigns and false claims that seek to ruin my reputation and challenge my integrity”. He pledged to assist prosecutors seeking to identify his foreign assets and those of his family.

Democracy activists leading the people-power movement have demanded the repatriation of the assets of Mr Mubarak and his entourage. The prosecutor general said that his emotional speech would not affect proceedings against him and family members.

Hundreds of Egyptians gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest against a pre-dawn assault on Saturday on 1,000 activists camped there to maintain pressure on the ruling generals to meet the demands of the democracy movement. Three people died and dozens were wounded.

The operation to clear the square was conducted by troops of the regular army and elements from the hated internal security forces blamed for the deaths of 180 protesters during the uprising.

The Mubarak-era state security agency was supposed to have been dissolved, and a new organisation formed to combat “terrorism” and threats to the state but not to be used against legitimate demonstrations.

Separately, in Syria, the army sealed off the northern port city of Banias, deployed tanks around the oil refinery, established checkpoints and disrupted communications after demonstrators took to the streets.

In the southern city of Deraa, security forces fired live rounds and tear gas on Saturday to disperse thousands attending a funeral for some of the 26 protesters killed there on Friday. Another 11 were reported to have been killed elsewhere.

Shots were fired to disperse protesters in the port of Latakia, the stronghold of the ruling Assad family, which belongs to the Alawite minority. The interior ministry announced it would not tolerate “the intentional mixing between peaceful protests and sabotage and sowing sectarian strife”.

In Iraq, thousands rallied in Baghdad’s Mustansiriya Square on Saturday, the eighth anniversary of the fall of the city to US troops. Men, women and children from the majority Shia community waved Iraq’s black, white and red flag and cheered the removal of former president Saddam Hussein.

In an address read by an aide, radical Shia cleric Moqtada al- Sadr warned he would unleash his militia against US troops if they remained in Iraq after the end of the year, the deadline for withdrawal.

“We say to the Black [White] House, ‘we are all time bombs and the detonators are in the hand of Moqtada al-Sadr’. American troops must definitely leave our lands,” the cleric said.

He called for the escalation of armed resistance to the US and for public protests and strikes.

He told prime minister Nuri al-Maliki he had a limited time to deliver electricity, water, jobs and security.