Cairo: Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian vice president under Hosni Mubarak who announced the president's resignation to the world, died unexpectedly on Thursday while undergoing tests at a US hospital.
"Former vice president General Omar Suleiman's health deteriorated suddenly around three weeks ago and he was taken to hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, where he died in the early hours of Thursday," Egypt's state-run MENA news agency said. He was 76.
"It came suddenly while he was having medical tests in Cleveland," Suleiman's aide Hussein Kamal said.
Suleiman was head of Egypt's intelligence services and served as vice president under Mubarak before his ouster.
In a sombre, one-minute television announcement in February 2011, Suleiman announced that Mubarak had resigned his post as president after three decades in power and said the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces would run the affairs of the country.
Suleiman had disappeared after the revolution from public eye only to come back as a presidential candidate.
However, his presidential bid was blocked by the Supreme Presidential Electoral Committee (SPEC) because he failed to acquire the number of recommendations stipulated by the election law.
During Suleiman's short-lived presidential bid he portrayed himself as a staunch enemy of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist forces.
In the final years of Mubarak's reign, he was one of the key architects of the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
After Mohammed Mursi, a senior figure in the Brotherhood, became Egypt's President, Suleiman warned that Egypt would become a theocratic state.
Suleiman left Egypt after the failed bid to run in the country's first ever free Presidential Elections in May.
He first travelled to Dubai but later headed to Germany and then on to the US for treatment, General Saad al-Abbassi, a member of Suleiman's presidential campaign team said.
Egypt's MENA news agency claimed Suleiman had developed a lung disease months ago, which later caused heart problems. His health notably deteriorated over the past three weeks, it added.
An Egyptian diplomatic source in Washington told MENA that arrangements were being made to transfer his body back to Egypt. The same source said two of Suleiman's daughters were escorting him.
Suleiman was a husband and father of three daughters.
His funeral will take place on Friday in Cairo and will be attended by Field Marshall Tantawi, the head of the quasi-ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, according to an unnamed intelligence source.
Suleiman headed the Egyptian General Intelligence Services (Egis) for 18 years.
He was appointed vice-president by Mubarak in the last days of the former leader's rule.
Suleiman's tenure as vice-president lasted for just a few days as Mubarak was deposed shortly after his appointment.
First Published: Thursday, July 19, 2012, 16:15