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June 01, 2005

Comments

SP

I thought Al Jazeera's coverage of the protests today was pretty good. They did tie it to the larger movement for reform, rather than sticking to the gender issue, which was good. It's significant that they had a regime lackey on earlier trying to defend the govt's position and reaffirming its commitment to reform. They also reported some comments from Bush calling on Mubarak to make Egypt democratic etc (I didn't catch all of it thanks to my mediocre arabic). Anyone know the exact content of Bush's response? In any event - looks like the protest served its purpose.

I didn't see that many black-clad people in downtown Cairo, but apparently there were several at the university.

SP

Urgh - wish there was a way to edit posts - anyway, I found the Bush statement via AP, here it is:

Bush prods Mubarak to hold 'free and fair' elections
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush personally prodded Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday to provide a model for other Mideast nations to follow by holding genuinely democratic and contested presidential elections.
During a 10-minute phone call between the two leaders, Bush said he told Mubarak to hold "as free and fair elections as possible."

"It will be a great legacy for his country," the president told reporters. "He's publicly stated he's for free and fair elections and now is the time for him to show the world that his great country can set an example for others."

Bush said Mubarak assured him "that's just exactly what he wants to do." Bush also said he was pleased to hear that Mubarak has asked his attorney general to investigate the beating of protesters at one polling place during voting last week.

Voters in that referendum overwhelmingly cleared the way for Egypt's first contested president election later this year.

Bush has promised to make the spread of democracy, particularly in the Middle East, the primary focus of his second-term foreign policy. That pledge meets a key test in places like Egypt, the world's largest Arab country and a key U.S. ally in the war on terror and other areas.

Mubarak, who has served for 24 years through unchallenged yes-no referendums and is widely expected to run again, has touted the upcoming multi-candidate presidential elections as a major democratic reform. But critics say that, with a constitution allowing Mubarak's ruling party a say over which challengers can run, it is only an attempt to satisfy the U.S.-led international calls and will not loosen Mubarak's grip on power.

On Wednesday, Bush reiterated his demands on the Egyptian process: allow people to vote without intimidation; allow the opposition to campaign on television, whether state-owned or not; allow people to carry signs advocating for or against all candidates; and count every vote. The president has also called for international monitors.

"They seem like reasonable standards," Bush said from the Oval Office, after a meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Nur al-Cubicle

What does a 10-minute phone call accomplish? Bizarre. Doesn't seem long enough for a serious conversation about both the elections and the Gaza pullout. Bush could have just as well sent an SMS message to Mubarek.

praktike

Why didn't they just call it "More, please" or "Not Enough"?

The Sandmonkey

it used to be not enough, but when it failed, now the call it the continuation movement!

Anna in Cairo

Actually, I saw quite a few wearing black, even at gov. places. Even the bus monitor on my kids' school bus was wearing black . (I assumed it was for that and not because she was going to a funeral...) At my work 3 people were wearing black. I would translate the sign as saying "No to the tyrannical family" which is pretty clear that they don't want Mubarak Fils to be the next pres.

Anna in Cairo

Oh, and the bus monitor thing is notable because my kids' school's principal is the WIFE OF THE PRIME MINISTER so you would think they would not be too keen on looking like they side with the opposition.

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