Friday, February 04, 2011

Reports: Mubarak may be granted asylum in Montenegro

Mubarak May Join Ex Thailand PM Shinawatra in Montenegro

If Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak bows to pressure from demonstrators and leaves office immediately he may have a place to go.

Mubarak can be granted asylum in Montenegro because his son has business ties there, news reports in the country said Friday.

"Orascom Holding, a multinational Egyptian corporation which singed a contract last year for the construction of tourist complexes with the Montenegrin government" is owned by the president's son Gamal Mubarak, according to

Montenegro is already home to former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup d'etat.

The New York Times reported that US and Egyptian officials were discussing a plan for Mubarak to turn power over now to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman.

The report, which cited administration officials and Arab diplomats, said the United States was seeking backing from the Egyptian military even though Mubarak himself was balking at the idea.

The White House sought to play down the notion there was a unique plan under consideration but did not issue an out-and-out denial of the Times report.

"It's simply wrong to report that there's a single US plan that's being negotiated with the Egyptians," a senior official in President Barack Obama's administration official told AFP.

The Times said the proposal calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to start a process to hold free and fair elections in September.

Another solution would see Mubarak stay in office as an "honorary president" for the next six months while Vice President Omar Suleiman manages the transition of power.

"This is a face-saving solution, which is to my mind widely accepted in Egypt among many people," Amr Hamzawy, an Egyptian political scientist, told a forum on Egypt at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Thursday.

Tens of thousands filled Cairo's central Tahrir (Liberation) Square Friday, the epicentre of 11 straight days of protests that have shaken the pillars of Mubarak's three-decade rule, on the Muslim day of rest and weekly prayers. Protesters dubbed it the "Day of Departure."

The atmosphere in the square on Friday was more festive and relaxed than on the previous two days when deadly clashes erupted, with authorities vowing the army would not use force and instead setting up razor barriers to keep rival demonstrators apart.

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said Friday that he would not run for president even if Mubarak steps down.

Mubarak, who has been challenged by massive civil protests against his rule for more than 10 days now, has declared he wants to live in his fatherland until his death. He has not bowed to the pressure yet to resign before the expiration of his term in September 2010.

According to the press in Montenegro, however, it is very likely that Hosni Mubarak can be granted asylum there because one of the sons of the embattled Egyptian President Gamal is among the owners of Orascom Holding, a multinational Egyptian corporation which singed a contract last year for the construction of tourist complexes with the Montenegrin government

What is more, Montenegro already has a precedent in providing refuge to exiled foreign leaders as in 2010 the former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra, a Thai millionaire who was brought down from power in 2006 by a military coup, received Montenegrin citizenship and is currently constructing a hotel complex on the St. Stefan island.

Egyptian business tycoon, the majority owner of the Orascom Group, Naguib Sawiris amidst 19 powerful and influential Egyptian businessmen are reported to have left the country as the civil unrest intensified.

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