''Mubarak''s decision to not quit deeply unfortunate, troubling''

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 11 (PTI) Egyptian President HosniMubarak''s decision to remain in power was "deeply unfortunate"and "troubling", a top US Senator has said, even as the entireObama Administration huddled into closed door meetings andconsultations immediately after Mubarak''s announcement.

"The voices of the Egyptian people are growing louderand more unified, and they are not demanding partial transfersof power or minor adjustments to the current government. Theyare calling for President Mubarak to step down as thebeginning of a meaningful and enduring transition to democracyin Egypt.

"I fully support the peaceful aspirations of theEgyptian people, and I am very concerned that every day theirdemands go unmet, the possibility only grows that this hopefulcall for change could be exploited by extremist or violentelements," US Senator John McCain in a statement.

82-year-old embattled Mubarak, in a televised speech,today refused to step down amid growing speculations of hisresignation, but said he had handed over some powers to hisdeputy and proposed constitutional changes.

US President Barack Obama, just before Mubarak''sspeech, had said at a public meeting in Michigan that historywas unfolding in Egypt.

"It''s a moment of transformation that''s taking placebecause the people of Egypt are calling for change," he said.

White House said Obama watched the speech live in theconference room of Air Force One and soon after his arrival,he huddled into a meeting the National Security Team.

There was no immediate reaction from the US governmenton it.

"When President Mubarak alleges that foreigners andoutsiders are manipulating events in Egypt, he could not befurther from the truth. The Egyptian people, and they alone,are the authors of the current outcry for democratic change inEgypt

"I urge President Mubarak to begin listening to andtrusting his people. The stability of Egypt and the widerregion increasingly depend on it," McCain said in thestatement.

Earlier in the day, CIA Director Leon Panetta told USlawmakers that he had information that Mubarak would resign.

"I got the same information you did, that there is astrong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening,which would be significant in terms of where the hopefullyorderly transition in Egypt takes place.

"I don''t know the particulars of how this would work,but I would assume that he would turn over more of his powersto Suleiman to be able to direct the country and direct thereforms that hopefully will take place," Panetta said inresponse to a question.

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