'Suleiman mulling figurehead role for Mubarak' | world | Hindustan Times
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'Suleiman mulling figurehead role for Mubarak'

world Updated: Feb 05, 2011 09:11 IST

New Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman is exploring the possibility of forming a transitional government under which Hosni Mubarak gives up his executive powers and remains a figurehead president till the elections are held in September, according to media reports.

"If the discussions bear fruit, executive powers in the new government could be gradually transferred to Suleiman, the country's longtime intelligence chief, and a transition government that includes opposition figures," The Wall Street Journal reported quoting people familiar with the matter.

These discussions come in the wake of increasing pressure from the international community including the US, amidst massive protest against Mubarak for the past 11 days demanding his ouster.

The Wall Street Journal said Suleiman has reached out to a group of Egyptian intellectuals to discuss how Mubarak's powers might be delegated to the vice president for an interim period.

The move could be legal under Egypt's constitution, the daily said.

"It wasn't clear whether such a deal would be acceptable to the opposition, which has insisted Mubarak step down before negotiations can begin," the news report said.

The Washington Post reported that the Obama Administration is urgently trying to persuade opposition groups to participate in a dialogue with Suleiman in a meeting scheduled for today.

The Obama administration, the daily said, has urged Egyptian military to back the dialogue.

"In conversations with Defence Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi and Lt Gen Sami Enan, the military chief, administration officials stressed the importance of preserving the army's position as the most respected institution in Egypt," the daily said.

On Friday, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates called his Egyptian counterpart for the fourth time.

"At the Saturday meeting, the administration hopes that government and opposition leaders will begin to draw the contours of a multi-step transition, including the immediate suspension of harsh emergency laws and establishment of a roadmap for constitutional change and free and fair elections," The Washington Post reported.