Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Egypt’s military to lift the country’s emergency decree, which suspends constitutional rights and circumscribes political activity outside the government.
“One of the demands which we have supported for a long time is to lift the emergency decree,” Clinton said in an interview today with Al Jazeera television. “There has been an announcement that will be done and we hope that it will be.”
In a second interview with a Middle Eastern network, Al Hurra television, which is financed by the U.S. government, Clinton repeated her call to rulers in the region to open their economies and allow greater political freedoms.
“With our friends, we have a very consistent message: There has to be change,” Clinton said. “It is still very possible, in fact desirable, for that change to proceed in an orderly way, a peaceful way, but it has to produce results, particularly for young people.”
Asked about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s promises of political reform, she said “a commitment in word only won’t produce the changes that people are looking for.”
“So I hope that what he has said will be followed up on,” Clinton said.
The top U.S. diplomat also reiterated the U.S. commitment to the independent tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The tribunal’s initial work pointed to Syria as responsible for the killing. Syria has repeatedly denied the accusation.
On Al Jazeera, Clinton praised the Egyptian military as “absolutely essential” since street protests broke out Jan. 25 in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. She also cautioned that focused effort would be needed after the euphoria of President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation and the installation of a military council to run affairs until elections in September.
“You have to rewrite a constitution, you have to pass new laws, you have to help form political parties, there is a long ‘to do’ list and everybody needs to be sort of focused on the task at hand,” Clinton said. “That’s going to take an enormous amount of energy from everybody involved.”
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