“An Extraordinary Moment”: Senators React to Mubarak’s Decision To Step Down

Feb 11, 2011 1:29pm

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:

In the wake of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s announcement Friday that he is resigning, US senators wasted no time in applauding his departure, but warning about dangers ahead…

“I am pleased that President Mubarak has heard and heeded the voice of the Egyptian people, who have called for change,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters on a conference call. “It is crucial that Mubarak’s departure be an orderly one and that it leads to democracy for Egypt, including free, fair and open elections. But we caution all sides against violence during this transition, and everyone will be watching the situation very very closely. We wish the Egyptian people the best in their next steps toward determining their own future under a democratic process.”

Senate Foreign Relations chairman John Kerry issued a statement touting a “new beginning” for Egypt.

“This is an extraordinary moment for Egypt,” Kerry said. “Courageous and peaceful demands for freedom and opportunity have now won the Egyptian people a chance at a new beginning.”

But he cautioned about the repercussions of what happens next.

“Now the hard work intensifies to prepare for free and fair elections that will allow the people to choose a broadly representative and responsive government. Egypt’s army and transitional leaders must heed the call to lift the emergency law and clarify a timetable to establish a proper foundation for credible elections. The United States must help Egyptians turn this democratic moment into a process that builds a government responsive to economic needs as well as demands for freedom. What happens next will have repercussions far beyond Egypt’s borders. We know from recent experience in Gaza that this requires not just elections, but hard work to build a government that is transparent, accountable, and broadly representative.”

Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, struck a similar tone.

“I applaud President Mubarak’s decision to step down,” he said. “This was obviously a very difficult decision for President Mubarak, but it is the right decision for Egypt. History will note that President Mubarak’s last action in office was in the best interest of the country he loves.”

“While this is a welcomed event, the Egyptian people are clearly saying that President Mubarak’s resignation should be the beginning, not the end, of their country’s transition to democracy. I completely agree. For the Egyptian people to achieve the legitimate and enduring democratic change they seek, representatives from Egypt’s pro-democracy parties and movements must be included in the transition government. In advance of elections later this year, Egyptians must be free to exercise their universal rights peacefully – to speak and express themselves without interference, including over the internet; to organize independent political parties; to register candidates of their choosing for office; and to participate in elections that are free and fair by international standards.”

“In the days ahead, the Egyptian military will continue to have a critical role in maintaining order and stability while allowing their fellow Egyptians to exercise their universal rights in peace,” he said. “The Egyptian people are demanding a meaningful and irreversible transition to democracy, and I urge the Egyptian military to faithfully support and secure the coming process of political change in Egypt. The United States stands fully ready to assist the Egyptian people and government as they begin the hard work of democratic reform.”




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