Mubarak may not be able to step down soon: Clinton

Clinton described Mubarak's assurance of not running for the presidency again and the dialogue on constitutional reform initiated in the country as "significant actions" but said if Mubarak resigns immediately, presidential election would have to be held in 60 days under the Egyptian constitution.

"He (Mubarak) announced he wouldn't run again. He announced his son wouldn't run again. He announced he was resigning his position of the national party, and his son was resigning his position at the national party. He installed a vice president for the first time in 30 years. Those are significant actions," Clinton told reporters on her way back from international talks on Egypt in Germany.

She said these were only preliminary steps and do not constitute an orderly transition but welcomed the process of dialogue that has started with the opposition.

"... but I think they have to be viewed as a very important set of steps being taken to keep the movement going in the direction that we seek," she said.

Referring to the Egyptian constitution, she said if the President were to resign, he would be succeeded by the Speaker of the house and presidential elections would have to be held in 60 days, and suggested that this is too short a time to arrive at final constitutional reforms.

"Now, the Egyptians are the ones who are having to grapple with the reality of what they must do. And maybe I misheard it, but on CNN this morning... one of the leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al-Baradei, they were saying, 'Well, it's going to take time. Now, that's not us saying it, it's them saying it," she said.

She said once the protests have gotten the attention of the government and the government has launched a response, there is already an effort underway within the civil society, the opposition, the political parties, to decide the future course of action.
"That's a really hard issue. I don't think it's appropriate for us to be sitting thousands of miles away saying, 'Well, this is what you should do, and that's what you should do', and, 'Oh, everybody knows that's self-evident'," Clinton said.

She said it is for the country of 80 million people, with a very complex political, economic, and social realities to move ahead in a new direction."Here is what we are encouraging. But we're not directing this. We are not reaching in and telling people what to do. We are sharing what we believe will work, what is most effective. But this is up to the Egyptians. They have to make these decisions," Clinton said.

She reiterated that the United States does not want to see any violence in particular from the security forces."We want to see peaceful protests. We want to see a process begun that will lead to an orderly transition that has milestones and concrete steps that lead us toward free and fair elections that install a new president who reflects the will and wishes of the Egyptian people," she said.

The Secretary of State made it clear that the US administration cannot dictate the outcome of the talks which is completely up to the Egyptians.

"They are the ones who have to work with this new reality that they are facing. But we know what kind of outcome we would like to see for them, for the region, for us. Egypt has the chance to, once again, lead the way," she said.

"It's the largest Arab country. It led the way on independence, Arab nationalism.    It led the way on peace with Israel.    I mean it has a record of being in the forefront of change in the region.

"It now has an opportunity to open up politically and economically in ways that will meet the needs of the largely young population that is not only a reality inside Egypt, but the principal voice of the protest," Clinton said.

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