Egypt faces a ‘bumpy’ transition: US

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Monday, February 7, 2011

WASHINGTON - The US has signalled its backing for a more deliberate approach to political negotiations in Egypt with White House saying its key ally faces a “bumpy” process in its transition to a multiparty democracy.

Even as he repeated the US insistence on meaningful change in Egypt, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs Monday told reporters that Cairo should “outline a series of steps and a timeline that the Egyptian people are comfortable with.”

His comments, CNN said, reflected the reality of embattled President Hosni Mubarak’s insistence that he will remain in power through the end of his term in September instead of ceding to demands for his immediate ouster by protesters who have roiled Cairo and the nation for 14 days.

Last week, Gibbs told reporters that reforms should take place immediately in reference to President Barack Obama’s Feb 1 statement that Egypt’s transition “must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now.”

But on Monday, Gibbs said: “This is a process that is going to be at times bumpy, because when for 28 years you have had one leader, without … really a robust opposition, it’s going to take some time to work this stuff out.”

In a brief informal exchange with reporters Monday, Obama said: “Obviously Egypt has to negotiate a path and I think they are making progress.”

Later, Gibbs added that ultimately it was up to the Egyptian people to evaluate how much progress was taking place, saying: “Words are not enough. It is actions toward a meaningful change that the Egyptian people are most looking for.”

The US State Department also Monday said the Egyptian talks needed to be more inclusive with spokesman P.J. Crowley suggesting “major figures in Egyptian society” had not been invited. He didn’t mention any groups or individuals by name.

At the same time, Crowley said opposition groups and demonstrators should test the government’s motives in the talks.

“There are people who are holding the transition process at arm’s length because they don’t believe it’s going to be credible,” he said.

“And our advice would be, you know, test the seriousness of the government and those who are participating to see if it can deliver, and from this people have confidence that change is actually going to occur.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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