Senator John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain are calling on embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a new democratic government.
The two former presidential candidates, Kerry in 2004 and McCain in 2008, have been among the leading voices of their parties on international affairs in general and the violent unraveling of Egypt's power structure specifically. The two co-wrote a resolution, passed by the Senate on a voice vote tonight, that calls on Mubarak to hand over power to a caretaker government.
The resolution, which is nonbinding, also calls on all political parties to avoid violence, support the rule of law, and work toward free and open elections. It specifically mentions the Muslim Brotherhood, an outlawed Islamist group that has a significant power base, as a group that espouses "extremist ideology." Some Middle East watchers fear a power vacuum in Egypt would be filled by militants who would have no interest in enacting democratic reforms.
Protests against Mubarak have become increasingly violent as progovernment forces have tried to end the rallies and remove demonstrators from squares around Cairo.
“Stop the bloodletting,’’ McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said on the Senate floor. “Let's start a peaceful transition to a free and open society and a government that can regain and hold the trust of the people of Egypt.’’
In a statement after the vote, Kerry said: “Tonight, the United States Senate stands unanimously with the Egyptian people and speaks with a bipartisan voice in condemning the violence. ... The Egyptian people are demanding a new political structure and President Mubarak has a responsibility to respond with actions that will bring an end to the brutality on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere and put his country on a path to genuine political, economic and social reforms.”
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.