Arab League chief Moussa may lead post-Mubarak Egypt

Cairo, Feb.6 (ANI): Former Egyptian Foreign Minister and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa has emerged as a potential compromise figure to lead the country's potentially dangerous transition.

Moussa made a surprise appearance in Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square on Friday afternoon, sparking off a frisson of excitement through the vast crowd that has been demanding an end to President Mubarak's 30-year-long reign.

"We want you as president, we want you as president," the protesters, or at least a portion of them, chanted while referring to Moussa, who has been coy about his presidential ambitions in the past.

"I am available for my country," he replied when asked if was considered seeking the presidency. "I am ready to serve as a citizen who is entitled to be a candidate," The Telegraph quoted Moussa, as saying.

Moussa was Egypt's foreign minister from 1991 to 2001, and is seen as of the regime but not necessarily tainted by it.

Indeed, his departure from the cabinet nine years ago was reportedly engineered by Mubarak to remove an increasingly popular rival from the spotlight.

Yet his popularity only grew at the helm of the Arab League. Even though he was not universally liked among some colleagues who accused him of nepotism and a refusal to brook dissent, ordinary Arabs applauded his frequent criticism of Israel and public opposition to the American invasion of Iraq.

While Moussa's reception in Tahrir Square was enthusiastic, it was far from adulatory.

Many did not applaud at all and some were critical of the fact that he never spoke out openly against Mubarak when it would have cost him and that he even once appeared to endorse his hated son Gamal as a potential successor.

For them, the Arab League leader does not represent the clean break with the past that they crave - even if he is regarded as less of an outsider than Mohamed El Baradei, the former UN nuclear chief who is another opposition contender for the presidency.

Others said they would be willing to back him, but only as a transitional leader until elections, scheduled for September, are held.

"Everyone likes him, but he is a diplomat not a politician," said Tareq al-Alfy, an entrepreneur at the forefront of the Facebook campaign that germinated the present revolt.

He added: "As a transitional leader he is ok, though I doubt the army will accept someone from the foreign ministry, but as a permanent president, he is unacceptable."

The plan, which is likely to find favour with the army, would see Mubarak remain in office as a figurehead until new presidential elections. (ANI)

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