Posted: 10 Feb 2011 06:46 PM PST
WASHINGTON, Feb 11 — President Barack Obama yesterday issued a statement on the situation in Egypt following a speech by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Here is the text of that statement.
"The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.
"As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. But the United States has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, and a negotiated path to democracy. To that end, we believe that the emergency law should be lifted. We believe that meaningful negotiations with the broad opposition and Egyptian civil society should address the key questions confronting Egypt's future: protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens; revising the Constitution and other laws to demonstrate irreversible change; and jointly developing a clear roadmap to elections that are free and fair.
"We therefore urge the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made, and to spell out in clear and unambiguous language the step by step process that will lead to democracy and the representative government that the Egyptian people seek. Going forward, it will be essential that the universal rights of the Egyptian people be respected. There must be restraint by all parties. Violence must be forsaken. It is imperative that the government not respond to the aspirations of their people with repression or brutality. The voices of the Egyptian people must be heard.
"The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people. Those who have exercised their right to peaceful assembly represent the greatness of the Egyptian people, and are broadly representative of Egyptian society. We have seen young and old, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian join together, and earn the respect of the world through their non-violent calls for change. In that effort, young people have been at the forefront, and a new generation has emerged. They have made it clear that Egypt must reflect their hopes, fulfill their highest aspirations, and tap their boundless potential. In these difficult times, I know that the Egyptian people will persevere, and they must know that they will continue to have a friend in the United States of America." — Reuters
Posted: 10 Feb 2011 03:37 PM PST
The huge crowed squeezed into the square danced, sang, chanted and waved a sea of red, white and black Egyptian flags as a sense of expectation mounted through the afternoon that Mubarak would meet their demands to give up power.
"Tonight he leaves, tonight he leaves," sang some, their confidence growing steadily through the afternoon as news reports suggested Mubarak would step down.
Rumours were rife. Some said he would leave to Germany, others were confident he would go to the United Arab Emirates.
Protest organisers painted Egyptian flags on the faces of those arriving. Tahrir Square seemed to be hosting a carnival more than a protest.
As usual, Egyptians of all walks of life and political persuasions rubbed shoulders, from bearded Islamists to secular leftists, liberals and entire families on a day out.
One girl, sitting atop her father's shoulders, had the word "leave" written on her forehead, echoing the demand that has drawn ever larger crowds to Tahrir Square this week. As Mubarak was about to speak, protesters said they were about to witness history. "Sit, sit, sit," chanted some.
Thousands responded, sitting on the ground in a scene that reflected the spirit of cooperation in the protest camp.
On the projector screen ahead of them, the appearance of the 82-year-old president prompted calls for quiet. Again, the crowd cooperated, a blanket of silence falling over the square.
Under a clear night sky and a half moon, soldiers standing atop tanks and armoured vehicles were paying as much attention as anyone. Some smoked cigarettes as the president began talking.
Within less than a minute, the crowds' joy had given way to despair. One man bowed his head as it became clear Mubarak intended to stay on.
Some took off their shoes, waving the soles at the screen. Others wagged their fingers disapprovingly or gave Mubarak the thumbs-down. Some wept.
Half-way through the speech, the protesters' patience appeared to wear out. They stood up, chanting: "Leave, leave, leave."
"He doesn't want to understand. The people don't want him in power," said Hesham al-Bulak, 23. "He is holding onto power in a way that is utterly bizarre."
Some demonstrators left right away, while others stayed where they were, chanting slogans into the night.
Addressing protesters as they left, one organiser, his eyes welling up with tears, shouted: "Don't despair, don't despair". "There is no despair," replied one protester. "There is not despair and there is no surrender." — Reuters
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