CAIRO – The main Egyptian opposition groups eased up on their insistence that President Hosni Mubarak step down immediately, agreeing instead on Sunday to join in talks toward overhauling the country’s political system at a more gradual pace while Mubarak remains in office.
The shift suggested that Mubarak and his allies may have succeeded in defusing the fiercest of cries from opponents who had insisted that the president resign as a precondition for any talks. It followed the clearest signals yet from the Obama administration that its call for a quick transition in Egypt did not include a demand that Mubarak step aside before elections this fall.
Among those who joined for the first time in talks with Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s newly appointed vice president, were leaders from the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement, along with a loose coalition of political parties, intellectuals and protest organizers. Suleiman said the government would agree to consider broad changes, including constitutional amendments and a possible end to Egypt’s three-decade-old state of emergency.
While the meeting itself was a concession to opposition groups, the setting underscored who remains in charge. The parties gathered around a formal, oval-shaped table as a portrait of Mubarak gazed down on them.
In a television interview, Suleiman made it clear that the government’s willingness to consider the changes was based on an expectation that Mubarak would stay in charge during a drawn-out transition to a new government. Mubarak has insisted that he will not leave before his term ends in September.
“If President Mubarak would say that ‘I’m leaving now,’ who would take over?” Suleiman said on ABC. “I think with this atmosphere, that means that the other people who have their own agenda will make instability in our country.” More
For the shorter comedic version video after the break.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stopped by Weekend Update to address the current state of Egypt. President Obama ask Murabek to step down.
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