News / Africa

British Prime Minister Calls For Urgent Transition in Egypt

British Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons in London, February 02, 2011
British Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons in London, February 02, 2011

Britain’s prime minister has joined the chorus of international leaders calling for an immediate political transition in Egypt.  

"Now, President Mubarak says he is going and we respect that but what matters is not just the orderly transition but also that it is urgent, it is credible, it starts now, and the more they can do with a timetable to convince people that it is true, the more I think the country can settle down to a stable and democratic future," said Prime Minister David Cameron speaking during his weekly address to Parliament.
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After more than a week of protests in Egypt, the country’s president, Hosni Mubarak, said Tuesday that he will step down when his term ends in September.

But that concession has not stopped the demonstrations.  Many Egyptians say they will not leave the streets until Mr. Mubarak leaves office.

Mr. Cameron praised the democratic aims of the protestors.

"We stand with those in this country who want freedom, who want democracy, who want rights the world over - that should always be our view.  And you can't watch the scenes in Cairo without finding it incredibly moving about people wanting to have those aspirations in Egypt as we have them in our country," he said.

Britain’s prime minister is not the only international leader to urge Mr. Mubarak to begin the transfer of power immediately.  U.S. President Barack Obama has sent out the same message, as has French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Anthony Skinner, a political expert at the Britain-based global risk analysis group Maplecroft, says the pressure put on Mr. Mubarak by global leaders is important, but not necessarily in conflict with what the Egyptian leader himself said on Tuesday.

"What the West is saying is effectively not adding that much to the actual narrative," he said.  "Mr. Mubarak has already indicated that he will be overseeing this process. He has no intention of actually standing again or trying to renew his mandate, if one can even refer to it as a mandate at this point."

He says regardless of what international leaders say, the fate of Mr. Mubarak is in the hands of the Egyptians.

He says the Egyptian economy cannot sustain the disruptions for long, and Mr. Mubarak may not be able to hold on until September.

"I would be surprised at this point if Hosni Mubarak would be able to hold on for that long," said Skinner.

The protests in Egypt followed an uprising in nearby Tunisia, which toppled the country’s president.

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