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Kerry, McCain Resolution Urges Democratic Reform In Egypt



WASHINGTON, D.C. –Responding to the rising violence in Egypt, Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced a bipartisan resolution, S. Res. 44, calling on President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin an orderly and peaceful transition to a democratic political system and to enact the necessary reforms to hold free, fair, and internationally credible elections this year. This evening, the resolution passed by unanimous consent.

Senator Kerry said: “Tonight, the United States Senate stands unanimously with the Egyptian people and speaks with a bipartisan voice in condemning the violence.  This resolution makes clear that President Mubarak needs to immediately begin an orderly and peaceful transition to a democratic political system. 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.”

Senator McCain said: “The Egyptian people are demanding a democratic future, and they deserve nothing less. Through this resolution, the U.S. Senate expresses its full support for the peaceful aspirations and the universal human rights of the men and women of Egypt. I urge all Egyptians to reject violence and extremism at this turbulent time and pledge themselves to the hard work of building a peace-loving democracy. The Senate supports this worthy goal.”

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

RESOLUTION

Mr. KERRY (for himself and Mr. MCCAIN) submitted the following resolution: 

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Supporting democracy, universal rights, and the peaceful transition to a representative government in Egypt.

Whereas the United States and Egypt have long shared a strong bilateral relationship;

Whereas Egypt plays an important role in global and regional politics as well as in the broader Middle East and North Africa;

Whereas Egypt has been, and continues to be, an intellectual and cultural center of the Arab world; 

Whereas on January 25, 2011, demonstrations began across Egypt with thousands of protesters peacefully calling for a new government, free and fair elections, significant constitutional and political reforms, greater economic opportunity, and an end to government corruption;

Whereas on January 28, 2011, the Government of Egypt shut down Internet and mobile phone networks almost entirely and blocked social networking websites;

Whereas on January 29, 2011, President Hosni Mubarak appointed Omar Suleiman, former head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate, as Vice President and Ahmed Shafik, former Minister for Civil Aviation, as Prime Minister;

Whereas the demonstrations have continued, making this the longest protest in modern Egyptian history, and on February 1, 2011, millions of protesters took to the streets across the country;

Whereas hundreds of Egyptians have been killed and injured since the protests began;

Whereas on February 1, 2011, President Hosni Mubarak announced that he would not run for reelection later this year, but widespread protests against his government continue;

Whereas on February 1, 2011, President Barack Obama called for an orderly transition, stating that it ‘‘must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.’’ He also affirmed that: ‘‘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.’’;

Whereas despite President Hosni Mubarak’s pledge in 2005 that Egypt’s controversial emergency law would be used only to fight terrorism and that he planned to abolish the state of emergency and adopt new antiterrorism legislation as an alternative, in May 2010, the Government of Egypt again extended the emergency law, which has been in place continuously since 1981, for another 2 years, giving police broad powers of arrest and allowing indefinite detention without charge;

Whereas the Department of State’s 2009 Human Rights Report notes with respect to Egypt, ‘‘[t]he government’s respect for human rights remained poor, and serious abuses continued in many areas. The government limited citizens’ right to change their government and continued a state of emergency that has been in place almost continuously since 1967.’’;

Whereas past elections in Egypt, including the most recent November 2010 parliamentary elections, have seen serious irregularities at polling and counting stations, security force intimidation and coercion of voters, and obstruction of peaceful political rallies and demonstrations;

and

Whereas any election must be honest and open to all legitimate candidates and conducted without interference from

the military or security apparatus and under the oversight of international monitors: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1)   acknowledges the central and historic importance of the United States-Egyptian strategic partnership in advancing the common interests of both countries, including peace and security in the broader Middle East and North Africa;

(2)   reaffirms the United States’ commitment to the universal rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of access to information, including the Internet, and expresses strong support for the people of Egypt in their peaceful calls for a representative and responsive democratic government that respects these rights;

(3)   condemns any efforts to provoke or instigate violence, and calls upon all parties to refrain from all violent and criminal acts;

(4)   supports freedom of the press and strongly condemns the intimidation, targeting or detention of journalists;

(5)   urges the Egyptian military to demonstrate maximum professionalism and restraint, and emphasizes the importance of working to peacefully restore calm and order while allowing for free and non-violent freedom of expression;

(6)   calls on President Mubarak to immediately begin an orderly and peaceful transition to a democratic political system, including the transfer of power to an inclusive interim caretaker government, in coordination with leaders from Egypt’s opposition, civil society, and military, to enact the necessary reforms to hold free, fair, and internationally credible elections this year;

(7)   affirms that a real transition to a legitimate representative democracy in Egypt requires concrete steps to be taken as soon as possible, including lifting the state of emergency, allowing Egyptians to organize independent political parties without interference, enhancing the transparency of governmental institutions, restoring judicial supervision of elections, allowing credible international monitors to observe the preparation and conduct of elections, and amending the laws and Constitution of Egypt as necessary to implement these and other critical reforms;

(8)   pledges full support for Egypt’s transition to a representative democracy that is responsive to the needs of the Egyptian people, and calls on all nations to support the people of Egypt as they work to conduct a successful transition to democracy;

(9)   expresses deep concern over any organization that espouses an extremist ideology, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and calls upon all political movements and parties in Egypt, including an interim government, to affirm their commitment to non-violence and the rule of law, the equal rights of all individuals, accountable institutions of justice, religious tolerance, peaceful relations with Egypt’s neighbors, and the fundamental principles and practices of democracy, including the regular conduct of free and fair elections;

(10)     underscores the vital importance of any Egyptian Government continuing to fulfill its international obligations, including its commitment under the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty signed on March 26, 1979, and the freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal; and

(11)      ensures that United States assistance to the Egyptian Government, military, and people will advance the goal of ensuring respect for the universal rights of the Egyptian people and will further the national security interests of the United States in the region.

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