Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., pushed further than the Obama Administration while responding to the mass protests in Egypt, writing in a blog post for The Hill Monday evening that the country’s embattled president must submit to free and fair elections — in short, Hosni Mubarak “will have to go.”

The administration has so far used cautious rhetoric, which Nelson describes as an effort to avoid retreading the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when the toppling of a U.S.-sponsored dictator allowed a fundamentalist regime to seize power, a prospect that has prompted fears in other countries, including Israel.

In an effort to calm the protests and cling to power, Mubarak has appointed a new vice president and ordered him to begin negotiating with the opposition and has sworn in a new cabinet. Not enough, Nelson wrote. Mubarak should announce plans to put his presidency (which has so far spanned three decades) on the line in elections that measure up to international standards:

To put real credibility into the promises of reform, President Mubarak should immediately submit to this core principle of democracy.

The next presidential election in Egypt is scheduled for September of this year. Right now, there are no term limits in Egypt’s constitution restricting Mubarak from running for re-election for the sixth time.

Mubarak must immediately open these elections to international observers and give his written assurance that his name won’t appear as a contender. I believe this could help quell the protests.

Read the whole thing.

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