Clinton says Egypt needs transition towards democracy

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Washington, Jan 30 (PTI) US Secretary of State HillaryClinton today made a strong pitch for an "orderly transition"towards a democratic government in Egypt, but did not directlycall for long-term American ally Hosni Mubarak to step down inthe face of an unprecedented mass uprising.

Clinton said though a move towards a participatorygovernment has to be initiated but cautioned that the Egyptianestablishment should make sure there is no political vacuum inthe process of transition.

"We want to see an orderly transition so that no onefills a void, that there not be a void, that there be a wellthought-out plan that will bring about a democratic,participatory government," she was quoted as saying by FoxNews.

She said Washington is sending "a very clear message"that quick movement in the direction of an orderly transitionis needed to avoid "some takeover that would lead not todemocracy, but to oppression and the end of aspirations of theEgyptian people."

President Barack Obama had yesterday asked America''sembattled ally Mubarak to make sure force is not used againstpeaceful protesters, tens of thousands of whom have beenflocking the streets for the past six days to seek the ousterof Mubarak, who has been at the helm in Egypt for 30 years.

The mass protests has so far claimed as many as 150lives and at many places protesters have clashed with securityforces.

Clinton said it would be in the long-term interest ofEgypt as well as the US-Egypt partnership that sweepingreforms are undertaken in the political system.

While stopping short of clearly asking a defiantMubarak to step down, Clinton said the response to the streetprotests has been unsatisfactory.

"... but now is the time to pursue greater politicalfreedom, economic opportunity and a path to democracy," shesaid.

"For 30 years, the United States, Republican andDemocratic administrations, have been urging Mubarak to takecertain steps. In fact, we have been urging that a vicepresident be appointed for decades, and that finally hashappened, but there''s a long way to go," Clinton said.

Scrambling to find ways out of the crisis, the82-year-old Mubarak appointed his intelligence chief OmarSuleiman as his first ever vice president after sacking hiscabinet.

Today, Mubarak visited the military headquarters andmet Suleiman and top commanders after which more troops andarmoured vehicles moved on to the streets.(MORE) PTI

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