WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Sunday that Egypt is not going to go back to the way it was before pro-democracy protests roiled the country, and played down prospects that the Muslim Brotherhood would take a major role in a new government.
“I think that the Muslim Brotherhood is one faction in Egypt,” Obama said. “They don’t have majority support.”
Even so, Obama said the Brotherhood, a banned political and religious group in Egypt, is well-organized and that he hoped to see a representative government emerge in the country.
Obama, speaking to Fox News ahead of the Super Bowl football broadcast, would not be drawn into predicting whether Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would step down.
“Only he knows what he’s going to do,” Obama said.
“The U.S. can’t forcefully dictate, but what we can do is say the time is now for you to start making a change in your country,” the president said. “Mubarak has already decided he’s not going to run again.”
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement accepts that President Hosni Mubarak staying in power is a “safer option” to secure the implementation of constitutional reforms.
“We wanted the president to step down but, for now, we accept this arrangement as long as we feel there is a serious implementation,” Mohamed Saad El-Katatni, a senior leader of the group, said after a meeting between Vice President Omar Suleiman and leaders of some opposition groups.
“It’s safer that the president stays until he makes these amendments to speed things up because of the constitutional powers he holds,” he said in Cairo today.
The Muslim Brotherhood waited a few days after anti- government protestors gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Jan. 25 before publicly supporting the movement, saying it shared their goals. They include an end to Mubarak’s 30-year rule, a new constitution, open elections and a new all-party government. The group, which is officially banned from running in elections, agreed to meet with Sulieman after Mubarak’s Feb. 1 announcement that he won’t seek another presidential term.
Thousands of protestors continued to rally in Tahrir Square, many of them calling for Mubarak’s immediate resignation. “We all insist that there is no alternative to Mubarak stepping down,” Ahmed Maher, one of the representatives of the youth gathering in Tahrir Square, said. “All those meeting with the regime do not represent us and they cannot move the people. We will carry on” with the protests.
A shooting at a frat party near Youngstown State University early Sunday left one student dead and 11 others injured, including six students, police said.
No arrests have been made, but police have at least one suspect, Youngstown police Lt. Franklin Palmer said.
Jamail E. Johnson, 25, died after he was shot in the head and legs during the off-campus party, the Mahoning County coroner’s office said.
Johnson was a senior and set to graduate this year, according to WKBN-TV.
Information about the identities and conditions of the others hurt wasn’t immediately available.
Youngstown State President Cynthia Anderson met students and their families as the hospital this morning, and said counselors and priests would be on campus to console the shaken student body.
Anderson called Sunday “a sad day for the YSU family,” the school said.
With News Wire Services