|Protesters in Oman, for the third day in a row, demanded higher salaries, jobs for the unemployed, and dismissal of government ministers. (Jumana El-Heloueh/ Reuters)|
Egypt seizes all Mubarak family funds
CAIRO — Egypt’s top prosecutor seized all the funds of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak and his family yesterday and banned them from travel abroad, the latest humiliation for the once-powerful clan.
It comes a day after authorities prevented Mubarak’s wife and son from flying out of the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
During the 18-day prodemocracy uprising, unconfirmed reports that Mubarak and his family might have amassed billions or even tens of billions of dollars over their three decades in power fueled protesters already enraged over massive corruption and poverty in Egypt.
Opponents say Mubarak, the top ruling party leaders, and other associates, as well as the powerful military have all profited richly from the corrupt system.
Mubarak was forced out of the president’s office Feb. 11 by military leaders, who have promised to meet many of the protesters’ demands. He is now believed to be living in seclusion with his family in Sharm el-Sheikh. The attorney general had already frozen the assets of the ousted president, his wife, two sons, and their wives on Feb. 20.
Authorities prevented Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne, and younger son, Gamal, from flying out of Sharm el-Sheikh Sunday. Airport officials said the two tried to board a private jet at the airport in the Red Sea resort town, where they have been staying since Mubarak stepped down.
Authorities told them they cannot leave without special permission, the airport officials said on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Nearly half the 80 million Egyptians live under or near the poverty line set by the World bank at $2 a day. Mubarak is suspected of turning a blind eye to corruption by family members and their associates, while many of the allegations of wrongdoing centered on the business activity of Gamal and Mubarak’s other son, Alaa, as well as Gamal’s wife and her family.
Unlike other Arab leaders, particularly those in the oil-rich Gulf nations, Hosni Mubarak was far from ostentatious. Whatever wealth he and his family may have had was rarely — if ever — flaunted.
The most prominent symbol of their presumed fortune that has surfaced was a townhouse in London’s exclusive Knightsbridge district, which is listed under Gamal Mubarak’s name and where he was said to have lived while working as an investment banker in the early 1990s. The townhouse has become a focal point for many in Egypt as foreign governments begin to either enact, or consider freezing the family’s assets.
Gamal Mubarak, the ousted leader’s onetime heir apparent, rose rapidly through the ranks of his father’s National Democratic Party over the past decade to become the country’s most powerful politician after the president, who is 82.
Chelb was the second minister in two days to resign, submitting his resignation a day after the prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, bowed out after a wave of deadly protests.
Outside Parliament, youths joined large police patrols to help keep the peace in Tunisia’s tense capital after a weekend of protests and clashes with riot police left at least six people dead, opposition leaders said.
Tunis saw no new major demonstrations yesterday.
In nearby Ben Arous, an industrial zone, authorities suspended public schools following weekend violence, the official TAP news agency reported. One person was killed while pillaging stores and several delinquents were arrested, the agency said.
Security forces sealed off main roads to Sohar, about 120 miles northwest of the capital of Muscat, in an attempt to isolate the protesters and keep crowds from swelling.
Witnesses said several hundred protesters — mostly young men — were rallying in the town’s main square, demanding higher salaries, jobs for unemployed youth, and the dismissal of some government ministers.
The demonstrations appeared to be part of a strategy to hold rallies at sensitive locations in the capital, Manama, while maintaining a round-the-clock protest base in a landmark square of the tiny gulf kingdom.
Saleh has come under mounting pressure in recent weeks to step down, with large daily rallies calling for his ouster. Key allies, including some tribal chiefs, have abandoned him.