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By Ray Fleming

THE news focus has moved from Egypt to other countries which have followed its revolutionary example and, particularly, to the crisis in Libya. But it is still necessary to keep Egypt in the foreground; what is happening there now to secure the prize of the free and democratic state made possible by the January 25 demonstrators will also determine the long-term success of the uprisings elsewhere.

Thus far the Egyptian military has used its provisional power to ensure stability in the immediate aftermath of the revolution but an article in yesterday's Financial Times by Mohamed ELBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a potential presidential candidate in Egypt, questioned whether the generals are sufficiently in touch with a new generation of political leaders. He also cautioned that holding elections in six months may not allow new political parties to be formed and make themselves known to the public. Most importantly, he proposed a three-person council, of two civilians and one military representative, to lead the transition process instead of leaving it wholly in the hands of the military.

Perhaps there is an element of self-interest in ElBaradei's proposals but the points he makes are substantial ones -- it is absolutely essential that Egypt's progress to democracy is thoroughly thought through and introduced in such a way that its longevity is not in doubt.