WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced hope that Egypt’s new leadership will respect the civil rights of people of varied political and religious views, in an interview released Saturday.
"You want an Egypt where people are free to be liberal, fundamentalists, conservative, progressive, whatever their particular views are, but showing respect for the state, for the institutions of the state, and the rights of the people. And that’s what I see you searching for and moving toward," Clinton told Egypt’s Al-Hayat television.
Asked how she saw Egypt’s interim military rulers performing in the transition to democracy, Clinton sounded upbeat.
"I expect them to fulfill the promises that they have made to the Egyptian people because you cannot have the democratic governance that you are seeking unless you have a fully free, fair, transparent set of elections that then empowers the people who have been elected," the top US diplomat said in the interview conducted Thursday.
"This is what we expect to see happen, and of course, we will express concerns if we don’t see it happening… But there is a schedule we believe needs to be followed."
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power when president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February, agreed Saturday to amend the new law to allow political parties to field candidates in the one third of seats previously reserved for independent candidates, the official MENA agency said.
The decision came after a meeting between military chief of staff Sami Enan and members of the Democratic Coalition, which groups dozens of political groups, including the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the liberal Wafd party.
Those at the meeting — and dozens more groups — had objected to Article 5, which stipulates that two thirds of seats be on a party list system and the rest reserved for independents.
Clinton was asked by Al-Hayat whether Washington would cooperate with Islamist political forces if they were elected.
"We will be willing to and open to working with a government that has representatives who are committed to non-violence, who are committed to human rights, who are committed to the democracy that I think was hoped for in Tahrir Square," she said.
According to Clinton, such an environment would allow for the respect of Egypt’s largely Coptic Christian minority, women and different views within Islam.
"We hope that anyone who runs for election, and certainly anyone who’s elected and joins the parliament, joins the government, will be committed to making Egypt work and be open to all Egyptians no matter who you might be," Clinton stressed.