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Kerry: Mubarak Resignation Opportunity For Egypt

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Anti-government demonstrators celebrate on top of an army tank upon hearing the news of the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. After 18 days of widespread protests, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has now left Cairo for his home in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheik, announced that he would step down. (credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

Anti-government demonstrators celebrate on top of an army tank upon hearing the news of the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. After 18 days of widespread protests, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has now left Cairo for his home in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheik, announced that he would step down. (credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Sen. John Kerry says the Egyptian people have won the chance for a new beginning, but considerable work lies ahead to assure free and fair elections in that country.

The Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a statement Friday after the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Kerry had previously called on Mubarak to step aside as soon as possible.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz talked with local Egyptians.

On Friday, Kerry called for the Army and transitional leaders in Egypt to lift emergency law and set a timetable for “credible elections.” He also said the U.S. should assist Egypt in building a government responsive to its citizens.

Kerry said elections alone do not always guarantee freedom. He cited Gaza, where the Islamic militant group Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006.

Locally Egyptians celebrated as well. Dina El-Zanfaly, the head of the Egyptian Association at M.I.T., said he was “screaming all over the place.” She has been in America for 15 months, and her father and sister are back in Egypt. She’s been keeping in touch with them through Skype and Facebook.

“I think it’s a brighter future cause now we are having freedom to speak and democracy and build a better Egypt and we’ll work on it,” she said.

Hesham Hamoda, a physician at Children’s Hospital in Boston, added that they’re ecstatic that this is “finally happening in Egypt.”

Hamoda moved to the U.S. from Egypt five years ago and has a lot of family still in his home country.

“I couldn’t concentrate on my work,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything else except think about what this means for my country and all the emotions that people are experiencing on the streets of Egypt.”

Hamoda said what happens next is questionable, but it’s better than what the country had before.

“I think our country will move in the direction of democracy,” he said. “How soon is still a question.”

WBZ’s Jonathan Elias spoke with Egyptians celebrating in Massachusetts.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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