U.S. Congressional Leaders Support Democratic Reforms in Egypt
Washington — U.S. congressional leaders are echoing President Obama’s call for a peaceful transition to democratic, economic and social reforms in Egypt.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, urged the Egyptian government and security forces “to exercise restraint in dealing with protesters and to respect the human rights of its citizens to seek greater participation in their own government.”
In a January 28 statement, Kerry also said the time has come for Egypt “to urgently improve governance and transparency, open the field to true opposition and new political identities, create real avenues for listening to and considering the wants and needs of their citizens, and demonstrate to younger generations that they will have better opportunities tomorrow than they do today.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida, said in a statement January 28 that she is “deeply concerned about the Egyptian government’s heavy-handed response” to protesters and said it is “imperative that all parties involved avoid violence.”
“For far too long the democratic hopes of the Egyptian people have been suppressed,” she added.
Protests in Egypt’s major cities — Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and others — have now continued for eight days and stem from political unrest for democratic and economic reforms, protest against rising food prices and cutbacks in subsidies, and perceptions of a lack of representative government.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has held his position since 1981, has accepted the resignations of his Cabinet and appointed his chief of intelligence, Omar Suleiman, vice president. It marks the first time in more than 30 years that the nation has had a vice president.
The country is set to hold presidential elections in September, and the Obama administration has called for the vote to be free, fair and credible.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, said during an appearance January 30 on Fox News Sunday that the United States has a “responsibility to respond” to any country “where people are calling out for freedom and democracy.”
“Clearly, reforms need to occur in Egypt,” Boehner said, adding that the Egyptian people have expressed “legitimate grievances … that need to be addressed.”
California Representative Howard Berman, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement January 31 that Egypt “has long needed a more inclusive government, responsive to the desires of its citizens.” He also called for the United States to remain committed to assistance programs for Egypt, both military and civilian.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said January 30 on NBC’s Meet the Press that Egypt is an “indispensable ally” and it is “up to the Egyptians to determine what their leadership is.”
Obama spoke with Mubarak by phone January 28, and said in remarks that day that the United States will “continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free and more hopeful.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised the U.S.-Egypt partnership in comments January 30, and emphasized the United States stands ready to offer any assistance requested in speeding democratic reforms.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)
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