WASHINGTON , February 6, 2011 (AFP) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged Sunday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may need to stay on longer than many of his opponents want in order to ensure elections succeed. Under pressure from mass protests, Mubarak has pledged to step down in time for September polls but many protesters demand his immediate departure and US news reports have suggested Washington was also pressuring him to quit now. However, Clinton, speaking to reporters on the way back from international talks on Egypt in Germany, suggested the pressure for Mubarak to leave sooner rather than later may be easing. ”That has to be up to the Egyptian people,” the chief US diplomat said when asked if reality dictated Mubarak play some role in the political transition toward free and fair elections in Egypt. ”As I understand the constitution, if the president were to resign, he would be succeeded by the speaker of the house, and presidential elections would have to be held in 60 days,” she said. ”Now the Egyptians are going to have to grapple with the reality of what they must do,” she said.
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