President Obama spoke on Monday evening of the need for transition in Egypt. From the White House he detailed a telephone conversation he had held with President Mubarak of Egypt:
“After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. Indeed, all of us who are privileged to serve in positions of political power do so at the will of our people. Through thousands of years, Egypt has known many moments of transformation. The voices of the Egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments; this is one of those times.
“Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear — and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak — is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.
“Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.”
The Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt welcomed the content of the Egyptian President’s speech in which he promised not to stand for re-election in the future. The Minister said:
“Yesterday evening’s announcement – which I strongly welcome – marks the end of the Mubarak era in Egyptian politics.
“I now hope that real transition to a democratic, pluralistic and stable Egypt can begin.
“This was also the outcome preferred by my fellow EU foreign ministers when we discussed the matter in private on Monday.
“Now, the crucial task is to arrange the free and fair election of Egypt’s next president and to create credibility for political developments until then.
“But this will require considerable changes to existing regulations in order to open the way for all candidates who wish to stand. The restrictions of the old regime must be abolished.
“Open and genuine dialogue on this transition is a prerequisite for peaceful development.
“The right of the Egyptian people to choose freely must not be restricted.”
Meanwhile, further tourist evacuations took place with Viking River Cruises scheduling an Airbus 320 to transport 91 holidaymakers to Frankfurt. The company has cancelled all Egyptian tours for February 2011.