US for ''real transition'' in Egypt

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 8 (PTI) Seeking a "real transition" inEgypt, the US has said a competitive and open presidentialpoll in the strife-torn country would be a "challenging" taskto achieve within the Constitutional provision of 60 days ifembattled President Hosni Mubarak was to resign immediately.

"If President Mubarak stepped down today, under theexisting Constitution, as I understand it, there would have tobe an election within 60 days. A question that would pose iswhether Egypt today is prepared to have a competitive, openelection given the recent past, where, quite honestly,elections were less than free and fair," State Departmentspokesman P J Crowley said at his daily news conference.

"So there''s a lot of work that has to be done to get to apoint where you can have free and fair elections, whether thefocus is the Parliament or the focus is the Presidency. Therewas a clear opportunity here. We wanted to have Egypt takeadvantage of this opportunity. It''s why we''re encouraging abroad, serious, you know, set of discussions," he said.

Clearly, there are commitments that have been advanced inthe last 24 hours by the government of Egypt, Crowley said,adding it would be up to the Egyptian people, including thoseprotesting at Tahrir Square and others, to determine whetherthose commitments translate into real actions and whether thatprocess is credible.

"What role that President Mubarak plays in this, youknow, is up to him and up to the people of Egypt," the StateDepartment spokesman said.

"I think that would be a challenging undertaking,"Crowley said when asked if Mubarak stepped down today, couldEgypt be ready for a free, fair and credible elections in 60days'' time.

He noted that the Egyptian people will be the judge ofthe process.

"There''s a great opportunity here for the Egyptianpeople. They''re standing up and demanding more of theirgovernment. To get to that point, they need a government thatbroadly represents a cross section of Egyptian society. Theyneed to seize this opportunity. How they do that is truly upto them. There''s not one way to accomplish this," he said.

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