Cairo, Feb.6 (ANI): The Egyptian leadership apparently seems unconvinced about asking President Hosni Mubarak to quit his post immediately, even though the United States and leading European nations called for his exit and threw their weight behind Vice-President Omar Suleiman.
Though American officials revealed that Suleiman had promised them an "orderly transition" that would include constitutional reform and outreach to opposition groups, a formal endorsement appeared to reject the protesters' main demands, including the immediate resignation of Mubarak and the dismantling of a political system built around one-party rule.
According to leaders of a small, officially authorized opposition party who spoke with Suleiman on Saturday, no attempt is being made to reach out to the leaders designated by the protesters to negotiate with the government.
According to the New York Times, the existing government appears to be consolidating its power.
The prime minister said police forces were returning to the streets. Army general urged protesters to scale back their occupation of Tahrir (Liberation) Square.
Protesters interpreted the simultaneous moves by the Western leaders and Suleiman as a rebuff to their demands for an end to the Mubarak dictatorship.
"America doesn't understand. The people know it is supporting an illegitimate regime," the NYT quoted Ibrahim Mustafa, 42, who was waiting to enter Tahrir Square, as saying.
Leaders of the Egyptian opposition and rank-and-file protesters have steadfastly rejected any negotiations with Suleiman until after the ouster of Mubarak, arguing that moving toward democracy will require ridding the country of not only its dictator but also his rubber-stamp Parliament and a Constitution designed for one-party rule.
Mubarak and Suleiman "are trying to kill what has happened and to contain and abort the revolution," said Hassan Nafaa, a political science professor at Cairo University.
He added: "They want to continue to manage the country like they did while making some concessions."
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that change takes time, and this message has been echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Clinton emphasized the need for Egypt to reform its Constitution to make a vote credible.
"That is what the (Egyptian) government has said it is trying to do," she said.
"There will be a change in Egypt, but clearly, the change has to be shaped in a way that it is a peaceful, a sensible way forward," Merkel said. (ANI)