Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's Spy Chief, Dies in U.S.

Former Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer: Suleiman was an Arab, Egyptian patriot, who safeguarded peace with Israel. I'll miss him.

Egypt's state news agency said Thursday that former spy chief and vice president Omar Suleiman has died in the United States at the age of 76.

Speaking to Reuters earlier, Suleiman's assistant said: "He was fine. It came suddenly while he was having medical tests in Cleveland," said the aide, Hussein Kamal, without giving a reason for Suleiman's death.

The former intelligence chief, stepped briefly into the limelight when he was made vice president days before Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising last year.

In a statement released in response to news of Suleiman's death, former Defense Minister and Labor MK Binyamin Ben Eliezer said he felt "deep sorrow over the passing of Omar Suleiman, an Egyptian and Arab patriot, and an important leader, who has done much for Egypt's security and strength."

"Omar Suleiman, who is his great activity, his personality and steadfastness, provided a significant contribution to stability in the Middle East, as well as a significant contirubtion to the maintain and safeguarding of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, which he considered to be an important Egyptian interest," Eliezer added.

The former defense minister also added "on a personal note, I'll miss him."

On April of this year, Egypt's central elections committee ruled that former Suleiman would not be able to run in the presidential elections.

The thus struck a final blow to Suleiman's presidential hopes, along with those of popular Safai candidate Hazem Abu Ismail.

The ruling came following appeals submitted by several candidates after the election commission barred them from running, shaking up an already tumultuous race and political transition.

Ultraconservative Islamist candidate Abu Ismail, the more mainstream Islamist Khairat al-Shater of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Suleiman were knocked out of the race along with seven others on Saturday on legal grounds.

The decision to disqualify the candidates - along with the possibility that it might again be reversed on appeal - has injected massive uncertainty into Egypt's first-ever freely contested presidential elections.

That decision was upheld by the country's election panel, al-Ahram said, with a ruling which effectively ends Suleiman's and Abu Ismail's presidential hopes.

In addition, the report claimed that final decision were reached in eight of ten appeals submitted, with decisions concern two other key candidates, including the Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat al-Shater, to be announced later in the day.

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