Egypt’s new leadership must be inclusive, says Clinton

2011-02-05 13:34

Munich – Any new Egyptian leadership should be inclusive, respect minorities and renounce violence, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said today.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Clinton also called on the Egyptian government to hold free elections monitored by international observers.

Clinton focused on the need for transition to democracy as a means of responding to the current wave of unrest in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world.

“Of course there are risks with the transition to democracy,” Clinton said.

“It can be chaotic, it can cause short-term instability. Even worse – and we have seen it before – the transition can backslide to just another authoritarian regime.”

For this reason, change “will only work if it is deliberate, inclusive and transparent”.

Addressing the possibility of a new government in Egypt, where protesters were on the streets for a 12th day in a row, Clinton said that “those who want to participate in the political system must commit to basic principles, such as renouncing violence as a tool of political coercion, respecting the rights of minorities ... participate in a spirit of tolerance and compromise.”

She said that “those who refuse to make those commitments do not deserve a seat at the table.”

Egypt’s largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, has been defending itself against charges that it has fuelled violent protests in Egypt.

“The government alone is responsible for the chaos. I swear that the Muslim Brotherhood has not called for violence and will not do so,” Rashad al-Bayoumi, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Der Spiegel news magazine today.

Al-Bayoumi said his party had not yet met with government or army representatives, and rejected Western concerns that its presence in government might lead to Egypt becoming an Islamic state.

“We are no devils. We want peace, not violence. Our religion is no devilish religion. Our religion respects followers of other faiths, these are our principles,” al-Bayoumi said.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned as a political party by Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak and has in the past been linked with terrorist attacks.

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