Egyptian VP discussing plans to limit Mubarak''s power


Cairo, Feb 5 (PTI) Egyptian President Hosni Mubarakappeared increasingly cornered today amid reports that hisdeputy Omar Suleiman and top military leaders were discussingsteps to nudge him from power, a day after tens of thousandsof protesters rallied here demanding his immediate ouster.

Despite mounting global clamour for him to step downimmediately, 82-year-old Mubarak, who has been in power since1981, refused to bow to the pressure.

Seeking immediate start of an "orderly transition" inEgypt, US President Barack Obama expressed hope that Mubarakwould be able to make the "right decision".

"In order for Egypt to have a bright future, the onlything that will work is moving an orderly transition processthat begins right now that engages all parties, leads todemocratic practices, fair and free elections and arepresentative government that is responsive to the grievancesof the Egyptian people," Obama said in Washington.

EU leaders, at a summit in Brussels of the 27-nationbloc, said Egypt''s "transition process must start now" andcondemned this week''s violence.

Egypt''s new Vice President Suleiman and other topmilitary leaders were discussing steps to limit Mubarak''sexecutive powers and possibly remove him from the presidentialpalace in Cairo � though not to strip him of his presidencyimmediately, Egyptian and American officials were quoted assaying by The New York Times.

A transitional government headed by Suleiman would thennegotiate with opposition figures to amend Egypt''sConstitution and begin a process of democratic changes, itsaid, adding that among the ideas discussed were suggesting toMubarak that he move to his home at Sharm el Sheik, theseaside resort, or embark on one of his annual medical leavesto Germany for an extended checkup.

"Such steps would provide him with a graceful exit andeffectively remove him as the central political player, goingpartway toward addressing a central demand of protesters onthe streets of Cairo," the report said, as hundreds ofthousands of protesters packed Cairo''s Tahrir (Liberation)Square last evening for a "day of departure" rally forMubarak.

The Wall Street Journal also reported quoting peoplefamiliar with the matter that if these discussions bear fruit,"executive powers in the new government could be graduallytransferred to Suleiman, the country''s longtime intelligencechief, and a transition government that includes oppositionfigures."

Separately, the Washington Post said the ObamaAdministration is urgently trying to persuade oppositiongroups to participate in dialogue with Suleiman.

The Obama administration, the daily said, has urgedEgyptian military to back the dialogue. (More) PTI KIM

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