Field Marshal Mohammed Hussain Tantawi Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Egypt’s former military ruler, Mohammed Hussain Tantawi, who governed the country for more than a year after the resignation of veteran president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, died early Tuesday in Cairo. He was 85.

Egyptian presidency paid homage to Tantawi, an ex-defence minister. “Egypt has lost one of its sincerest sons and one of its military symbols, who devoted his life to the service of his nation for more than half a century,” a presidential spokesman said in a statement.

“He was a statesman, who took responsibility for managing the country’s helm in a very difficult period during which he wisely and ably addressed dangers that beset Egypt,” he added.

President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi offered condolences to Tantawi’s family, calling him a “man of heroism”.

In February 2011, Tantawi temporarily took over Egypt’s rule as the chief of the Armed Forces Supreme Council that ran the country for several turbulent months after Mubarak stepped down following a popular uprising against his 30-year rule.

Tantawi, who had been named a defence minister by Mubarak in 1991, was sent to retirement in August 2012 by Islamist president Mohammed Mursi.

Born in Cairo in October 1935, Tantawi graduated from Egypt’s military Academy in 1956. He fought in Egypt’s 1967 and 1973 against Israel.

He also served as Egypt’s military attaché in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

After Al Sissi took office in 2014, Tantawi used to appear at official ceremonies in Egypt. Several state institutions have been named after him in a gesture of honour.

Al Sissi will lead later Tuesday a military funeral for Tantawi at a mosque named after Tantawi on the outskirts of Cairo, the semi-official newspaper Al Ahram reported.