Lalit K Jha
Washington, Feb 3 (PTI) Toughening its stand againstembattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the US has saidthe transition of power in the Arab State "must start now" andasked its new Vice President Omar Suleiman to probe theviolent attacks on demonstrators by pro-regime activists.
"A transition of power must start now," White House PressSecretary Robert Gibbs said at his daily news conferenceyesterday. "The people of Egypt need to see change."
When asked if it is okay for the US that Mubarak leavesthe post in September when the country goes for presidentialelection, Gibbs said: "If you''re asking me if now isSeptember, it is unseasonably warm, but it is not September.
Now means now."
82-year-old Mubarak, a close ally of the US who has beenin power since 1981, is facing the greatest challenge to hisautocratic regime in the wake of the protests which began onTuesday last week.
Noting that US President Barack Obama has also called forimmediate beginning of an orderly transition in Egypt, Gibbssaid: "The administration believes that President Mubarakhas a chance to show the world exactly who he is by beginningthis transition that is so desperately needed in his countryand for his people now."
Gibbs'' remarks indicated that the White House now clearlywants Mubarak to leave his post.
Also, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephonedEgyptian Vice President Suleiman, a longtime US ally, lastevening and asked him to hold accountable those responsiblefor violent attacks on pro-democracy protesters.
Their telephonic conversation came as supporters ofMubarak fired at anti-government protesters in the Egyptiancapital''s Tahrir Square, killing six people.
Clinton called Suleiman to convey that the violence was ashocking development after many days of consistently peacefuldemonstrations.
"The Secretary urged that the Government of Egypt holdaccountable those who were responsible for violent acts," theState Department said in a statement.
Clinton also underscored the important role that theEgyptian Armed Forces have played in exercising restraint inthe face of peaceful demonstrations and called on all partiesto recommit themselves to using only peaceful means ofassembly, it said.
Noting Suleiman''s call for a broad dialogue withrepresentatives of Egypt''s opposition parties, Clinton hopedthat both the government and opposition would seize theopportunity, starting immediately, for serious, meaningfulnegotiations about Egypt''s transition to a more open,pluralistic and democratic government. (More) PTI LKJ