Egyptian VP: Instability to Reign If Mubarak Leaves Now

World | February 6, 2011, Sunday // 19:37|  views

Egypt's vice president has warned that calls for the immediate departure of President Hosni Mubarak would invite "chaos." Photo by EPA/BGNES

Egypt's new vice president warned of instability if President Hosni Mubarak steps down immediately, and urged protestors to go home as the government looks for "quiet time" to implement changes.

"We don't want chaos in our country. If President Mubarak would say that I am leaving now, who would take over," Omar Suleiman said in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC's 'This Week' program.

The interview was broadcast as representatives of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood met with government officials for talks aimed at easing the 13-day long political crisis.

In a separate interview broadcast Sunday morning, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Mubarak should step aside now and make way for a three-member presidential council.

"He doesn't have to leave Egypt. But he has to cede power. The regime has lost legitimacy. He has to assume political responsibility and step aside.. and have a year of transition where we can have free and fair elections" including the right to establish political parties, ElBaradei said.

Mubarak has said that he would leave office after his term ends this fall, despite calls from opposition groups and protesters that he resign immediately.

Suleiman, the government's chief negotiator in talks with opposition forces, had earlier rejected a call to assume Mubarak's powers.

"I am an old man. I did a lot for the country," he said.

"I think with this atmosphere, the other people who have their own agenda would make instability in our country," Suleiman said. added.

Mubarak's embattled regime held landmark talks on Sunday with opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, agreeing to jointly pursue democratic reform.

"We can do what President Mubarak has said and we cannot do more," Mr. Suleiman said. "And when (a) new president will come, (the opposition) will have more time to make any changes (they) want," he said.

In the meantime, he urged protestors to leave the streets as dialogue between the government and opposition unfolds.

"We can say only go home, we cannot do more than that," Suleiman said. "We cannot push them by force."

Suleiman said a return to a more normal atmosphere would help bring back tourists and bolster the country's economy.

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