Egyptian media have paid tribute to Dr. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt’s prime minister after Hosni Mubarak’s fall, who died on Monday at the age of 85.
Dr. Tantawi, who was also defence minister under Mubarak for nearly 30 years, was reported to have died of a heart attack in Tora Prison after a hunger strike to protest against his detention.
Friends and family have mourned Dr. Tantawi, whose supporters felt he was unfairly scapegoated for corruption under the previous regime.
Dr. Tantawi was a lieutenant of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s and 60s. He served in the military and ruled as Egyptian President Nasser’s intelligence chief for four years.
Dr. Tantawi was born in 1936, but rose to power as head of military intelligence under Colonel Nasser’s rule and in the wake of his death.
As defence minister in the first three years of Egypt’s transition to democratic civilian rule, Dr. Tantawi oversaw a major campaign to crush the Islamist movement, after the army deposed former President Morsi on 3 July 2013.
When Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party took power in the 2012 election, the army stepped in to stop the party’s ambitions.
Tantawi was widely regarded as a divisive figure in Egyptian politics and rejected the responsibility of having ultimately taken power.
A former general in the Egyptian army, Tantawi raised some eyebrows when he emerged as the one of the few figures from Egypt’s former regime still at the country’s helm.