Last Updated: Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:37 am (KSA) 08:37 am (GMT)

Obama urges ‘genuine democracy’ in Egypt

US President Barack Obama said that the non-violence moral force drove Egyptian to justice
US President Barack Obama said that the non-violence moral force drove Egyptian to justice

U.S. President Barack Obama has called on the now-ruling Egyptian military to ensure a transition towards "genuine democracy," saying that the people of Egypt had spoken.

Obama gave a statement Friday, soon after it emerged from a euphoric Cairo that President Hosni Mubarak, a 30-year U.S. ally who America subtly helped push towards the exit, had resigned after days of raging street protests.

"The people of Egypt have spoken -- their voices have been heard and Egypt will never be the same," Obama said.

 Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day 
US President Barack Obama

"Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day," Obama said, praising the military for safeguarding the state, but also calling on them to secure a credible political transition.

The U.S. administration had struggled for days to find ways of making an impact on the 18-day crisis, as Mubarak had defied pressure to end his long authoritarian rule.

Obama had ratcheted up calls for a peaceful, swift transition to democracy, and on Friday pledged that the United States would stand with the people of Egypt -- one of America's staunchest allies and a recipient of some two billion dollars in annual aid.

 By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian peoples' hunger for change 
Barack Obama

"By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian peoples' hunger for change," Obama said in his brief statement.

On taking power Friday, the military moved quickly to reassure the citizens whose street revolt toppled Mubarak that it would respect the popular will.

And the White House called on the new authorities in Egypt to honor existing peace agreements with Israel.

Peace accords with Israel

"It is important the next government of Egypt recognize the accords that have been signed with the government of Israel," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Mubarak's hurried departure Friday -- a day after he said he would stay until September's elections -- will have brought relief in Washington, facing a dearth of options to force an end to the crisis.

But Mubarak's exit also posed searching questions about future U.S. Middle East policy, with a possible power vacuum in Egypt.

Obama nevertheless hailed the toppling of the Arab strongman, brought down by two weeks of mass protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, as a defining moment in world history.

"The word Tahrir means liberation. It's a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom," Obama said.

The president also drew parallels to other tumultuous world events, referring to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Indonesian revolt against president Suharto, and Indian independence icon Mahatma Gandhi.

Obama urged for credibility

 For Egypt, it was the moral force of non-violence, not terrorism, not mindless killing, but non-violence, moral force, that bent the arc of history towards justice one more 
Obama

He called on the armed forces to ensure a political transition that was "credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people," warning of "difficult days ahead."

"Over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace, as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights," he said.

And he emphasized the peaceful nature of the uprising.

"Egyptians have inspired us and they've done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence," Obama said.

"For Egypt, it was the moral force of non-violence, not terrorism, not mindless killing, but non-violence, moral force, that bent the arc of history towards justice one more."

The Pentagon announced that the top U.S. military commander will visit Israel and Jordan Sunday and Monday to reaffirm U.S. support following the collapse of the Mubarak presidency.

Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will begin his trip in Amman where he will meet with King Abdullah II and his Jordanian counterpart, Lieutenant General Meshaal Al-Zabn.

"He will discuss security issues of mutual concern and reassure both these key partners of the U.S. military's commitment to that partnership," Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby said.

In Israel, Mullen will hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and the country's military leaders.

U.S. lawmakers on Friday were also weighing tighter controls on exports that can help repressive regimes cling to power.

"We continue to watch and have concerns about the misuse of any equipment that the United States provides or sells to another nation," said a spokesman for the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, Josh Holly.

China hopes for Egypt’s stability

 China has been closely paying attention to the development and changes of the situation in Egypt... Egypt is a friendly nation of China, (China) believes that China-Egypt relations can keep healthy and stable 
Ma Zhaoxu, China's government spokesman

China on Saturday said it hoped to see a swift return of stability and public order in Egypt after Mubarak stepped down following more than two weeks of mass protests.

China hopes that the latest development of the situation helps Egypt with the restoration of national stability and public order as soon as possible," spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

"China has been closely paying attention to the development and changes of the situation in Egypt... Egypt is a friendly nation of China, (China) believes that China-Egypt relations can keep healthy and stable," he added.

Online discussion about the protests has been muffled since the turmoil began, in a sign that the unrest is worrying Beijing, which restricts content seen as a potential challenge to the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party.

Yemen respects Egyptians' choice

Yemen said on Saturday it respected the choice of the Egyptian people, whose mass protests forced the resignation of Mubarak on Friday, and would support them in their search for progress and development.

Against a background of spreading anti-government protests in Yemen itself, the official news agency Saba said the government was confident Egypt's Higher Military Council would be able to manage the country's affairs in the transition period.

Saba, quoting an official source, said Yemen was keen to strengthen relations and would support the Egyptian people "in everything that would bring them stability, progress and development."

Yemenis across the country celebrated the fall of Mubarak on Friday.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh planned an unexpected meeting with military and political leaders late on Friday, but there was no official word early on Saturday on their talks.

Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 32 years and is a key U.S. ally against al Qaeda, made his boldest move yet to stave off turmoil last week when he promised to step down at the end of his term in 2013.

The opposition has yet to respond to his call to join him in a unity government.

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