News / Middle East

Obama Delivers Stronger Message on Egypt

Egyptian lawyers in black robes stream into Cairo's Tahrir Square, February 10, 2011
Egyptian lawyers in black robes stream into Cairo's Tahrir Square, February 10, 2011



President Obama is urging the Egyptian government to spell out in unambiguous terms the process it is pursuing leading to a credible and genuine democracy. The White House delivered a new and stronger message as Mr. Obama and his advisers cope with developments after President Hosni Mubarak declined to step down.

The president and his administration began Thursday with some optimism amid indications apparently received from Egyptian officials in Cairo that President Mubarak would announce he was stepping down, meeting the demands of tens of thousands of protesters.

In remarks in the state of Michigan, Mr. Obama pointed to a "moment of transformation" that he said was being driven by a new generation of Egyptians, saying that going forward the U.S. will continue to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy.

"They have turned out in extraordinary numbers, representing all ages and all walks of life, but it is young people who have been at the forefront, a new generation, your generation, who want their voices to be heard," said Obama.

After watching Mr. Mubarak's speech on Air Force One returning to Washington, President Obama arrived back at the White House and immediately went into a meeting with his national security team.

The optimism in Mr. Obama's earlier statement was transformed later into much stronger tone after the Mubarak speech.  The Egyptian government, said Mr. Obama, had not seized the opportunity to put forward a "credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy."

Saying too many Egyptians remain "unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy", the president urged Egyptian leaders to speak clearly to their people and the world."

On Thursday, President Mubarak spoke of support for constitutional changes and a road map leading to fair elections in September, but refused to step down, while delegating certain powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman.

Egypt's Ambassador to the United States, Sameh Shoukry, told U.S. television networks Mr. Mubarak had transferred all executive powers to Mr. Suleiman who was de facto president with all authority of the presidency under the Constitution.

The ambassador said three key powers -  power to dissolve parliament, to fire the Cabinet, or make amendments to the Constitution - were now also not in Mr. Mubarak's hands.  

In remarks to CNN on Thursday, the Egyptian reform leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, described the Mubarak speech as "an act of deception on a grand scale" adding that the Egyptian people would accept neither Mr. Mubarak nor Mr. Suleiman.

Again on Thursday President Obama did not specifically call for President Mubarak to step down reapeating the U.S. position that only the Egyptian people can determine their political future.

Repeating his call for restraint by all parties, Mr. Obama said the U.S. supports "core principles" and "universal rights" of Egypt's people on the way to "irreversible political change" and meaningful political negotiations involving Egypt's broad opposition and civil society.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs