McCain: Egypt’s Military Wants Civilian Government

Posted June 26th, 2011 at 5:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Two leading U.S. senators say Egypt's military rulers are committed to quickly handing over powers to an elected government. They made the remarks after a meeting in Cairo with Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt's ruling council.

Senator John McCain said Sunday that General Tantawi indicated his “absolute commitment” to transitioning to a civilian government after parliamentary elections scheduled for September, followed a month later by a presidential vote.

Some secular and liberal opposition groups in Egypt have advocated delaying the votes until a new constitution if drafted amid fears that early polls could benefit Islamists.

But Senator John Kerry said General Tantawi and his colleagues are “very anxious to get out of the business of governing.” Former President Hosni Mubarak handed over power to the military in February, after an 18-day popular uprising that forced him from power.

McCain warned the success or failure of Egypt's revolution will depend on the health of the Egyptian economy. In an effort to encourage U.S. investment in Egypt, he and Kerry led a group of American businessmen representing companies including General Electric, Coca-Cola, Boeing, Dow and Exxon Mobil.

The U.S. has pledged about $2 billion in aid to Egypt for the coming fiscal year. Kerry said much more is needed to revive Egypt's economy.

Also Sunday, an Egyptian health official said there is no “scientific” proof Mr. Mubarak is suffering from cancer while awaiting trial on charges of corruption and ordering the killings of opposition protesters.

Mr. Mubarak's lawyer said last week the deposed leader has stomach cancer with growing tumors. But, Egyptian media published reports Sunday quoting health ministry official Abdel-Hamid Abaza as saying the government has no scientific document to confirm the cancer claim.

Last week, the Associated Press quoted the head of Mr. Mubarak's medical team, Assent Gaza, as denying the former president has cancer and describing his condition as “stable.”

The news agency quoted a second top medical official in the Sharma el-Sheikh hospital where Mr. Mubarak has been detained since April 13 as saying he is only suffering from heart trouble. The official said Mr. Mubarak is not even in intensive care.

The Egyptian newspaper Al-Mary al-You said a German medical team was due to examine Mr. Mubarak Sunday for signs of cancer. It says the team includes the German surgeon who operated on the ousted president last year to remove his gallbladder and part of his pancreas, which were cancerous.

The 83-year-old faces trial in early August on charges of corruption and ordering the killings of hundreds of protesters during the revolt.

Mr. Mubarak's interior minister Dhabi el-Badly and six other former officials already are on trial in connection with the killings. A Cairo court resumed the trial Sunday, but dozens of relatives of those killed rallied outside, some chanting slogans against el-Badly and others throwing rocks at police. The court later adjourned the trial until July 25.