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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rice Pushes Democracy in Egypt

CAIRO, Egypt -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a forceful case for democracy in the Muslim world Monday, telling Egypt's conservative government leaders "the fear of free choices can no longer justify the denial of liberty."

Rice's remarks were to some 700 invited government officials, academics and other guests at the American University in Cairo. The setting is notable, both because Egypt plans multiparty elections in the fall and because the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush has made no secret of its dissatisfaction with political progress and the treatment of opposition figures by the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"For 60 years, my county, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither," Rice said. "Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people."

Earlier Monday at a news conference in Sharm el Sheik, Rice said the world would be watching the elections. Her Egyptian counterpart promised the voting would be free and fair.

"Who would object to fair and transparent elections?" Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said. "It will be so, I assure you."

Mubarak surprised Washington and other Arab nations this spring when he announced his country would hold its first ever multiparty elections.

Limits on who can run and scattered violence and thuggery during a preparatory referendum raised international doubt that Mubarak is serious about reform.

But the Bush administration has praised Mubarak while thrashing Iran's Islamic leadership for placing somewhat similar limitations on the slate of candidates in elections this past weekend.

 The editor of the Egyptian state-owned weekly newspaper Akhbar El Yawm announced his resignation in an article published Saturday, fueling speculation that a major reshuffling may be planned within Egypt's state-run news media, The New York Times reported.

The editor, Ibrahim Seada, has led the paper for more than 15 years, in addition to serving as speaker of Egypt's upper house of Parliament, which oversees the state-run media.

In his column, he blamed the "chaos" threatening state newspapers for his departure. That was likely a reference to long-bubbling rumors that Mubarak was planning a broad shake-up of the country's editors.