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John Kerry: Democracy Needed in Egypt

3:51 PM, Jan 28, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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John Kerry calls for democracy in Egypt, while the administration has stopped short of doing so. Josh Rogin reports

"In the case of Egypt, President Mubarak has the opportunity to quell the unrest by guaranteeing that a free and open democratic process will be in place when the time comes to choose the country's next leader later this year," [Kerry's] statement read.

The presidential elections in Egypt are September. Open elections don't seem to be what Mubarak has in mind, considering that he placed Nobel Peace Prize-winner Mohammed el-Baradei, a potential presidential contender, under house arrest. But it does reveal the gap between the Obama administration and many on Capitol Hill about what the American stance regarding Egypt should be as the crisis continues.

Rogin reports that a bipartisan group that includes Bob Kagan and Ellen Bork is also calling for democracy in Egypt:

Around Washington, the calls for the Obama administration to come out more forcefully on the issue are increasing. The "Working Group of Egypt," a bipartisan expert group that includes the Carnegie Endowment fellows Bob Kagan and Michelle Dunne, CAP's Brian Katulis, FPI's Ellen Bork, among others, issued a statement calling on Obama to press for free elections.

"The administration should press for constitutional and administrative changes necessary for a free and competitive presidential election open to candidates without restrictions, supervised by judges and monitored by domestic and international observers," they wrote.

One Egypt expert in Washington noticed that the statements from the administration seem to be moving away from support of Mubarak as the situation on the ground changes.

"They're shifting their statements to cover their ass in case Mubarak is overthrown. They were caught by surprise here as they were in Tunisia," the expert said.

"The administration is in disarray, they don't know what to do. On the one hand, they're scared about what do without Mubarak. On the other hand, they don't want to appear to have blood of the protesters on their hands."

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