Clearly explain steps that lead to democracy: Obama to Egypt

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 11 (PTI) US President Barack Obama hasasked Egypt to explain in "clear" and "unambiguous" languagethe "step by step" process that will lead to democracy in thecountry, after its President Hosni Mubarak today refused tostep down from power.

Expressing his disappointment over the steps announcedby Mubarak, in which he delegated some of his powers to VicePresident Omar Suleiman and did not step down from his post,Obama, in a statement asked the Mubarak regime to spell out in"clear and unambiguous language the step by step process" thatwill lead to democracy and the representative government thatthe Egyptian people seek.

Obama, who held meetings with his national securityteam, after Mubarak''s speech, also demanded the Egyptiangovernment to immediately lift emergency and start meaningfulnegotiations with the broad opposition.

"The Egyptian people have been told that there was atransition of authority, but it is not yet clear that thistransition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient," he said inhis statement.

Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that thegovernment is serious about a genuine transition to democracy,and it is the responsibility of the government to speakclearly to the Egyptian people and the world, Obama said.

"The Egyptian government must put forward a credible,concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, andthey have not yet seized that opportunity."

Noting that his administration had said from thebeginning of the unrest that the future of Egypt will bedetermined by its people, Obama said US has also been clearthat it stands for a set of core principles.

"We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptianpeople must be respected, and their aspirations must be met.

We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrateirreversible political change, and a negotiated path todemocracy.

"To that end, we believe that the emergency lawshould be lifted. We believe that meaningful negotiations withthe broad opposition and Egyptian civil society should addressthe key questions confronting Egypt''s future--protecting thefundamental rights of all citizens; revising the Constitutionand other laws to demonstrate irreversible change; and jointlydeveloping a clear roadmap to elections that are free andfair," the US President said.

Obama said it was imperative that the Egyptiangovernment does not respond to the aspirations of their peoplewith repression or brutality.

"Those who have exercised their right to peacefulassembly represent the greatness of the Egyptian people, andare broadly representative of Egyptian society.

"We have seen young and old, rich and poor, Muslimand Christian join together, and earn the respect of the worldthrough their non-violent calls for change. In that effort,young people have been at the forefront, and a new generationhas emerged," he said.

The people of Egypt must know that they will continueto have a friend in the United States of America, Obama added.

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