Transition of power in Egypt must start now: US

Washington: Toughening its stand against embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the US has said the transition of power in the Arab State "must start now" and asked its new Vice President Omar Suleiman to probe the violent attacks on demonstrators by pro-regime activists.

"A transition of power must start now," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at his daily news conference yesterday. "The people of Egypt need to see change."

When asked if it is okay for the US that Mubarak leaves the post in September when the country goes for presidential election, Gibbs said: "If you`re asking me if now is September, it is unseasonably warm, but it is not September.

Now means now."

82-year-old Mubarak, a close ally of the US who has been in power since 1981, is facing the greatest challenge to his autocratic regime in the wake of the protests which began on Tuesday last week.

Noting that US President Barack Obama has also called for immediate beginning of an orderly transition in Egypt, Gibbs said: "The administration believes that President Mubarak has a chance to show the world exactly who he is by beginning this transition that is so desperately needed in his country and for his people now."

Gibbs` remarks indicated that the White House now clearly wants Mubarak to leave his post.

Also, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Egyptian Vice President Suleiman, a longtime US ally, last evening and asked him to hold accountable those responsible for violent attacks on pro-democracy protesters.

Their telephonic conversation came as supporters of Mubarak fired at anti-government protesters in the Egyptian capital`s Tahrir Square, killing six people.

Clinton called Suleiman to convey that the violence was a shocking development after many days of consistently peaceful demonstrations.

"The Secretary urged that the Government of Egypt hold accountable those who were responsible for violent acts," the State Department said in a statement.

Clinton also underscored the important role that the Egyptian Armed Forces have played in exercising restraint in the face of peaceful demonstrations and called on all parties to recommit themselves to using only peaceful means of assembly, it said.

Noting Suleiman`s call for a broad dialogue with representatives of Egypt`s opposition parties, Clinton hoped that both the government and opposition would seize the opportunity, starting immediately, for serious, meaningful negotiations about Egypt`s transition to a more open, pluralistic and democratic government.