For Immediate Release: February 10, 2011
Washington, DC – Amidst news that President Hosni Mubarak plans to step down from power, Human Rights First is calling the move a necessary step in Egypt’s transition from autocracy to a more democratic, more responsive form of government that can better meet the needs of its people.
“For the transition to advance and the disruptions and risks of the street protests to end, power must shift decisively from President Mubarak and his military advisors, including Vice-President Omer Suleiman, to a more inclusive transitional authority,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “This need not and does not mean anarchy. The protesters have shown a much greater regard for public safety and the Egyptian national interest than the Mubarak government has in recent weeks. The protesters did not resort to violence, did not spread lies and disinformation to stir up popular anger; did not unleash thugs against peaceful demonstrators and did not sabotage the economy by shutting down the Internet and disrupting cell phone services. State institutions, notably the military, should be a part of any transitional authority.”
According to Hicks, the Egyptian military has a stark choice to make in the next few days: Will it align itself with authoritarianism and the desperate perpetuation of the old regime – leading inevitably to more repression and an end to its privileged relations with the U.S. military and its good reputation among the Egyptian people? Or, will it signal its readiness to participate in and safeguard a genuine, inclusive transitional process leading to a new Egypt with a reformed constitution, strong legal safeguards for basic human rights, democratic, responsive government and respect for the rule of law?
“In this choice, the preference of the United States government should be clear. The U.S. government has many points of contact with the Egyptian military and should be using these relationships, developed through decades of cooperation, to push for the choice that will enable the U.S. – Egyptian relationship to become one between two sovereign, democratic allies,” Hicks notes. “The only viable option for the Obama administration is to continue to press for a genuine, inclusive process of dialogue that leads to real change resulting in free and fair elections for a new parliament and a new president in a few months time.”