Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s former vice-president and long-time spy chief to deposed president Hosni Mubarak, has died in the US, the official MENA news agency has reported. He was 76.
“Former vice president General Omar Suleiman died in the early hours of Thursday in a hospital in the United States,” the agency said.
“He was undergoing medical tests in Cleveland,” Suleiman’s aide Hussein Kamal said, adding that arrangements were being made to return his body to Egypt for burial.
The former intelligence chief stepped briefly into the limelight when he was appointed vice-president during the uprising that toppled Mubarak.
He left Egypt after a failed bid to run in the country’s first ever free presidential elections in May.
Initially travelling to Dubai, he later headed to Germany and then on to the US for treatment, General Saad al-Abbassi, a member of Suleiman’s presidential campaign team, told AFP news agency.
“His health deteriorated recently. He was in the United States with his family,” said Reem Mamdouh, another member of the team.
He was a central figure in Egyptian politics for more than 15 years after he took over the country’s intelligence agency in 1993.
Pillar of ousted regime
Suleiman, a pillar of the ousted regime, announced in April that he would be running for the president after initially saying he would stay out of the race.
He was barred from pursuing the country’s top job on a technicality, after the country’s election commission said he failed to get endorsements from 15 provinces as per the law.
Suleiman was born in 1936 in the southern town of Qena and left for Cairo at the age of 19 to enroll in Egypt’s military academy and went on to receive advanced army training in Russia.
He took part in both the 1967 and 1973 Middle East wars, though details of his service are unclear.
Suleiman was widely believed to have formed part of the inner circle of Mubarak, who shortly before his fall named the intelligence supremo as vice president.
Both Mubarak and Suleiman survived an assassination attempt in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, where they were due to attend an African summit in June 1995.