Kerry Calls on Mubarak to Explain Transition to Egyptians

Posted February 6, 2011 at 11:04am

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry said Sunday that he’s encouraged by signs of change in Egypt, but the Massachusetts Democrat said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak must do a better job of communicating the next steps to his people.

Mubarak has started the transition out of power, Kerry said, as evidenced by the fact that newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman is meeting with opposition leaders.

“I think what’s needed is clarity of process,” Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “What is important is that the Egyptian people understand that their demands are being met, that there will be an election, that it will be free, fair, accountable.”

Despite comments Saturday by U.S. Special Envoy for Egypt Frank Wisner that Mubarak should stay in power to guide the transition, Kerry reiterated the Obama administration’s most recent position that the Egyptian president should step down immediately.

“He must step aside gracefully and begin the process of transition to a caretaker type of government,” Kerry said. “I think that is what’s happening right now.”

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told “The Daily Show” on Thursday that he and the entire U.S. government were surprised by the revolution in Egypt. Kerry addressed the revelation Sunday, saying he agreed but he wasn’t surprised that there was pent-up demand for reform in the nation.

“What happened in Tunisia is what triggered this, and what happened on Facebook and what was happening with Twitter was frankly what drove it,” Kerry said. “Everyone in Egypt suddenly saw this moment erupt. … The moment and manner in which it exploded is a reflection of what happened with respect to the new media and what happened in Tunisia. I don’t think anyone even in Egypt expected it would happen when it did.”