Former Egyptian VP Soliman Dies at Cleveland Clinic

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From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, CNN

CAIRO (CNN) — Omar Soliman, the Egyptian vice president under Hosni Mubarak who announced the president’s resignation to the world, has died in a U.S. hospital, officials said Thursday. He was 76.

State-run Nile TV and the state news agency MENA reported that Soliman died in an American hospital.

Family members say he had “water on the lungs and heart issues.” But an Egyptian official who asked to remain unnamed because he wasn’t authorized to talk with the media said the former spy chief had cancer and had traveled to Germany for medical reasons before for heading to Cleveland, Ohio.

Soliman died early Thursday morning with his family at his side at the Cleveland Clinic.

Head of Egypt’s powerful intelligence services, he also served as vice president under Mubarak before his ouster.

In a somber one-minute television announcement in February 2011, Soliman announced that Mubarak had resigned his post as president and declared that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces would run the country’s affairs.

The announcement followed an 18-day popular uprising in Egypt that saw tens of thousands take to the streets to demand Mubarak’s ouster.

Soliman most recently made headlines when he entered the race for Egypt’s first democratically elected president in the 11th hour and then failed to gather enough signatures required to be on the ballot.

He was disqualified from the election by a panel that included members connected to the Mubarak regime, which suggested that his elimination from the presidential race was not politically motivated.

Soliman had headed Egypt’s intelligence since 1993, maintained close CIA ties and was often criticized by rights groups for his heavy-handed approach with suspected militants.

Born into poverty in the Egyptian town of Qena, he enrolled in the country’s prestigious military academy and was decorated in the wars against Israel in 1967 and 1973.

In June 1995, both Soliman and Mubarak survived an assassination attempt during an African summit in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

His body has not been returned to Egypt, the source said, where a military funeral is expected to take place.

CNN’s Saad Abedine contributed to this report.

[The family of General Omar Soliman provided the Cleveland Clinic with the spelling of his name used in this report.] 

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