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02/11/11

European Leaders, Obama Increase Pressure on Mubarak

Source: VOA

European governments reacted with a mix of concern and impatience to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's refusal to immediately leave office.

The Europeans have been stepping up their calls in recent days for a power change in Egypt, as massive protests continue their calling for President Hosni Mubarak to leave. Those calls were reiterated following the Egyptian leader's televised declaration Thursday that he would not resign right away.

In his own televised remarks after Mr. Mubarak's speech, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said it was inevitable that the Egyptian president would leave office.

Mr. Sarkozy said he hoped Egypt's fledgling democracy took the time to get political training, structures and principles and not move toward religious dictatorship.

Britain's foreign secretary William Hague called for an urgent but orderly transition of power, while Germany's foreign minister said Mr. Mubarak's speech left the international community more worried than before.

In Brussels, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso expressed hopes for a peaceful transition in Egypt.

Speaking alongside Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero - and just before Mr. Mubarak's speech - Mr. Barroso said the events happening in Egypt reminded him of his native Portugal's own transition to democracy from dictatorship.

Following Mr. Mubarak's speech the European Union sharpened its tone, with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressing disappointment that the speech did not open the way to faster and deeper reforms.

Ms. Ashton called for the lifting of Egypt's state of emergency as soon as possible. And she said the orderly and irreversible transition to democracy and fair elections was a goal shared by both Europeans and Egyptians.

Obama Delivers Stronger Message on Egypt

President Obama is urging the Egyptian government to spell out in unambiguous terms the process it is pursuing leading to a credible and genuine democracy. The White House delivered a new and stronger message as Mr. Obama and his advisers cope with developments after President Hosni Mubarak declined to step down.

The president and his administration began Thursday with some optimism amid indications apparently received from Egyptian officials in Cairo that President Mubarak would announce he was stepping down, meeting the demands of tens of thousands of protesters.

In remarks in the state of Michigan, Mr. Obama pointed to a "moment of transformation" that he said was being driven by a new generation of Egyptians, saying that going forward the U.S. will continue to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy.

"They have turned out in extraordinary numbers, representing all ages and all walks of life, but it is young people who have been at the forefront, a new generation, your generation, who want their voices to be heard," said Obama.

After watching Mr. Mubarak's speech on Air Force One returning to Washington, President Obama arrived back at the White House and immediately went into a meeting with his national security team.

The optimism in Mr. Obama's earlier statement was transformed later into much stronger tone after the Mubarak speech. The Egyptian government, said Mr. Obama, had not seized the opportunity to put forward a "credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy."

Saying too many Egyptians remain "unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy", the president urged Egyptian leaders to speak clearly to their people and the world."

On Thursday, President Mubarak spoke of support for constitutional changes and a road map leading to fair elections in September, but refused to step down, while delegating certain powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman.

Egypt's Ambassador to the United States, Sameh Shoukry, told U.S. television networks Mr. Mubarak had transferred all executive powers to Mr. Suleiman who was de facto president with all authority of the presidency under the Constitution.

The ambassador said three key powers - power to dissolve parliament, to fire the Cabinet, or make amendments to the Constitution - were now also not in Mr. Mubarak's hands.

In remarks to CNN on Thursday, the Egyptian reform leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, described the Mubarak speech as "an act of deception on a grand scale" adding that the Egyptian people would accept neither Mr. Mubarak nor Mr. Suleiman.

Again on Thursday President Obama did not specifically call for President Mubarak to step down reapeating the U.S. position that only the Egyptian people can determine their political future.

Repeating his call for restraint by all parties, Mr. Obama said the U.S. supports "core principles" and "universal rights" of Egypt's people on the way to "irreversible political change" and meaningful political negotiations involving Egypt's broad opposition and civil society.

Egypt's Military Supports Mubarak

Egypt's military appears to be backing President Hosni Mubarak's decision to remain in office and has called for a return to normal life in Cairo. The military also endorsed the transfer of some powers from Mr. Mubarak to Vice President Omar Suleiman.

The Egyptian military's Supreme Council says it will lift the country's emergency laws if the current protests end. Those laws have been in place for 30 years, giving Egyptian security forces extraordinary powers to arrest people and hold them indefinitely.

The military's announcement is a huge concession to pro-democracy protesters flooding Egypt's streets for an eight consecutive day. But it may not be enough.

Surprise decision

On Thursday, Mr. Mubarak surprised demonstrators, and observers around the world, by saying he would not step down.

Shock, dismay, and anger followed in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where thousands of protesters had gathered for Mr. Mubarak's speech. Shayma Kamel was there.

"He didn't resign. He didn't resign and the people are so disappointed and so angry," said Kamel.

She said protesters are marching Friday on Egypt's presidential palace.

"[The] reaction is really bad. All of the people are so nervous, and they all - the people - decided to go to the president's palace. They are so angry," Kamel said.

More protests planned

Demonstrators are also gathering outside the offices of Egypt's state television, the mouthpiece of Mr. Mubarak's government.

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei warned on Twitter that Egypt will "explode."

Friday's demonstration is already one of the largest yet. Protesters are joining with millions of Egyptians flowing out of mosques after Friday prayers. In Tahrir Square, a top Muslim preacher has called on the protesters to stay steadfast in their demands. The man fainted with emotion in the middle of his sermon.

... Payvand News - 03/25/16 ... --



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