Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement in response to President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation.

“Today’s decision by President Mubarak to step down is a historic victory for the Egyptian people over an authoritarian ruler. It is not yet a victory for democracy, but it inspires great hope that true Egyptian democracy, once unimaginable, is now on the horizon.

“While it is up to the Egyptian people to determine their own future, we should use our influence to encourage a process of change that is orderly and a government whose foreign and security policies support our interests. As this change takes hold, we must keep firmly in mind that our goals include an Egypt that supports close relations with the United States; supports the welfare of the Egyptian people, including democracy and universal human rights; is secular in orientation; and, of course, adheres to the peace treaty with Israel.

“The democratic transition will happen if, and only if, the military plays a constructive role. Having now taken power, the military should be encouraged to relinquish that power at the earliest practicable time to an empowered, civilian-led transitional government that incorporates a broad spectrum of opposition figures. This transitional government should take the lead in ending emergency rule and introducing the necessary amendments and reforms for the conduct of free and fair elections. I believe it is important that our military assistance program continue, so long as the military fulfills its role in bringing about a democratic transition.”