Suleiman rules himself out as potential presidential candidate

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 6 (PTI) Egyptian Vice President OmarSuleiman who is leading the regime''s negotiations with theopposition has ruled himself out of presidential contention,saying he is an "old man" with no urge to run for the toppost.

The former intelligence chief, who was picked up byPresident Hosni Mubarak, to lead the government''s efforts toaddress the crisis in Egypt, reaffirmed that the roadmap wasto bring about an orderly and meaningful transition towardsgreater democratic reforms.

"No, no. According to this constitution, I cannot. Iam not from any party. I''m not belonging to any party or toany group, which I cannot be (presidential) candidate as aconstitution," Suleiman told ABC news when asked about thepossibility of him being the country''s next president.

The interview taken early this week was aired today aslandmark negotiations began between the regime and theopposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

"I''m became old man (sic). I did a lot for thecountry. I have no urges for to be president of this country.

When the President (Hosni Mubarak) asked me to be VicePresident, I accepted directly just to help the president inthis critical time," he said in response to a question.

Suleiman and the opposition leaders today agreed toaccomplish a study of constitutional reforms and suggestamendments by the first week of March, apart of a number ofother steps to address the demands of the people.

Suleiman is leading the Mubarak regime''s effort tohold talks with the pro-democracy protesters who are demandingthe resignation of 82-year-old Mubarak who has ruled thecountry for three decades now.

"I want the opposition to understand that, in thislimited time, we can do what President Mubarak has said, andwe cannot do more, and when a new president will come, youwill have more time to make any changes you want," the74-year-old said.

Appearing on the same show, the Egyptian Ambassador tothe United States, Sameh Shoukry, termed today negotiations avery important development.

"The roadmap continues to be an orderly and meaningfultransition to greater democratic reforms, meeting theaspirations of the Egyptian people in terms of their economicwell-being, and continuing to prepare for the transition forthe next presidential election," he said.

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