CAIRO (Reuters) - The two sons of Hosni Mubarak almost came to blows last Thursday when the former Egyptian president gave his final speech in an effort to stay in power, a state-owned newspaper said Sunday.
Al-Akhbar said Alaa Mubarak accused his younger brother Gamal, who had held a senior position in the ruling party, of having ruined the 82-year-old leader’s final days in office through promoting his business friends in political life.
Alaa reportedly said this had turned Egyptians against their father, who had been in power since 1981.
“You ruined the country when you opened the way to your friends and this is the result. Instead of your father being honored at the end of his life you helped to spoil his image in this manner,” the daily quoted him as saying.
The newspaper did not give its sources, simply saying it “learned” of the details. There was no way to immediately confirm the report.
It said the argument took place in the presidential palace in Cairo while Mubarak was recording his final speech, which he hoped would persuade protesters to stand down and give promised reforms a chance during Mubarak’s last months in office.
It said senior officials had to intervene to separate them.
Gamal Mubarak, 47, who spent 11 years working at Bank of America in Cairo and London, gained considerable influence in government after Mubarak appointed him head of the ruling National Democratic Party’s (NDP) policy committee in 2002.
Analysts say he eased the way of business friends to senior positions in the NDP and into the cabinet of Ahmed Nazif, the prime minister sacked by Mubarak several days after massive protests broke out in Egypt on January 25.
Corruption among the ruling elite is seen as one of the reasons for popular anger at Mubarak, though political repression and police brutality were also major factors.
Many Egyptians felt Mubarak was grooming Gamal as his successor. Before Gamal rose to prominence, speculation was rife in the 1990s that Mubarak wanted Alaa, a businessman, to succeed him.
The al-Akhbar report said Alaa was also angry because the original draft of Mubarak’s speech was scrapped. That would have seen him hand his civilian powers to his deputy Omar Suleiman and military powers to the armed forces.
Mubarak’s speech Thursday evening delegated presidential powers to Suleiman, who was seen by the protest movement as Mubarak’s man and unacceptable.
After protesters came out in their hundreds of thousands all over Egypt Friday, Suleiman appeared on television to say in a brief speech that Mubarak had resigned and handed his powers over to the army’s Higher Military Council.
Reporting by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton