Hillary Clinton says Egypt needs transition towards democracy

Hillary Clinton says Egypt needs transition towards democracy

Clinton said though a move towards a participatory government has to be initiated but cautioned that the Egyptian establishment should make sure there is no political vacuum in the process of transition.

"We want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void, that there not be a void, that there be a well thought-out plan that will bring about a democratic, participatory government," she was quoted as saying by Fox News.

She said Washington is sending "a very clear message" that quick movement in the direction of an orderly transition is needed to avoid "some takeover that would lead not to democracy, but to oppression and the end of aspirations of the Egyptian people."
President Barack Obama had yesterday asked America's embattled ally Mubarak to make sure force is not used against peaceful protesters, tens of thousands of whom have been flocking the streets for the past six days to seek the ouster of Mubarak, who has been at the helm in Egypt for 30 years.

The mass protests has so far claimed as many as 150 lives and at many places protesters have clashed with security forces.

Clinton said it would be in the long-term interest of Egypt as well as the US-Egypt partnership that sweeping reforms are undertaken in the political system.While stopping short of clearly asking a defiant Mubarak to step down, Clinton said the response to the street protests has been unsatisfactory.

"... but now is the time to pursue greater political freedom, economic opportunity and a path to democracy," she said.

"For 30 years, the United States, Republican and Democratic administrations, have been urging Mubarak to take certain steps. In fact, we have been urging that a vice president be appointed for decades, and that finally has happened, but there's a long way to go," Clinton said.

Scrambling to find ways out of the crisis, the 82-year-old Mubarak appointed his intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his first ever vice president after sacking his cabinet.
Today, Mubarak visited the military headquarters and met Suleiman and top commanders after which more troops and armoured vehicles moved on to the streets

Clinton acknowledged Mubarak's role in securing peace regionally over the past 30 years, but said the time has come for him to respond to the Egyptian people's "legitimate grievances."Mubarak has been one of the staunchest allies of the US and Israel in the Middle east for decades.

"We see a dialogue opening that reflects the full diversity of Egyptian civil society that has the concrete steps for democratic and economic reform that Mubarak himself said that he was going to pursue," she said.

The US today asked its citizens to avoid travelling to Egypt and authorised voluntary departure of dependents and non-emergency employees of its mission in the country as anti-government protests entered their sixth day.Clinton said an estimated 50,000 Americans are currently stationed in Egypt and none of them have been harmed. 

 Amidst signs of some of these protest turning into anti-American too, Clinton appearing on various Sunday talk shows called for restraint Acknowledging that the situation in Egypt is volatile.

"There are many steps that can be taken by reaching out to those who have advocated a peaceful, orderly transition to greater democracy where the Egyptian people themselves get to express their views. That's what we wish to see," Clinton told the CNN and said the US is willing to help in transition that leads to greater political and economic freedom.

"This is a complex, very difficult situation. Egypt has been a partner of the US over the last 30 years, has been instrumental in keeping the peace in the Middle East between Egypt and Israel, which is a critical accomplishment that has meant so much to so many people," she said.

"What we're trying to do is to help clear the air so that those who remain in power, starting with President Mubarak, his new vice president, the new prime minister, will begin a process of reaching out, of creating a dialogue that will bring in peaceful activists and representatives of civil society to, plan a way forward that will meet the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people," she said.

Clinton said increasing chaos or even violence in the streets, prison breaks, is not the way to go.

"We want to see this peaceful uprising on the part of Egyptian people to demand their rights, to be responded to in a very clear, unambiguous way and then a process of national dialogue that will lead to the changes that the Egyptian people seek and that they deserve," she said.

"It is unlikely to be done overnight without very grave consequences for everyone involved.

"We want to see both the existing and any new members of any government continue to put real life into what President Mubarak himself said, which were concrete steps toward democratic and economic reform," she said.

Appearing on ABC News, Clinton said the US is monitoring the action of the Egyptian military.

"We have sent a very clear message that we want to see restraint, we do not want to see violence by any security forces, and we continue to convey that message," she said.
She also said there is no discussion as of now about cutting off any aid to Egypt but added that "we always are looking and reviewing our aid".

On the appointment of a Vice President, Clinton said this is "bare beginning" of what needs to happen. She also expressed concern over reports of looting and arson in the country but praised the Army for showing restraint.

"Right now, from everything we know, the army has taken up positions. They are responding very positively, thus far, to the peaceful protest. But, at the same time, we have a lot of report of looting and criminal activity that is not going to be particularly helpful to what we want to see happen. And that has to be dealt with," she said.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox