President Barack Obama said late Thursday it was not yet clear how Egypt's government is moving to transfer authority, on the same day when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he would be handing some of his powers to his vice president but would remain in office until September's elections.
Obama said that while the Egyptian people had been told there was a transition of authority it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient, according to a White House statement.
The voices of the Egyptian people must be heard, Obama said. He urged the government to explain what changes had been made so far and lauded those who had assembled peacefully.
Obama urged the Egyptian government on Thursday to spell out in clear and unambiguous language the step by step process that will lead to democracy and the representative government that the Egyptian people seek.
On Tuesday, U.S. vice President Joe Biden told Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman in a call earlier in the week that the U.S. supported rescinding the emergency law which give authorities broad powers to arrest citizens. Obama reiterated that on Thursday. In the Tuesday call, Biden also urged the government and opposition to come up with a roadmap and time table for transition.
The government has broad powers to arrest citizens under emergency law. On Friday, Egyptian Army officials said in statement on national television that emergency law would be lifted, but only as soon as current circumstances end, according to pan-Arabic network Al Jazeera.
Obama said Thursday his administration believed that negotiations between Egypt and the opposition should include revising the Constitution and other laws to demonstrate irreversible change.
Obama also said the universal human rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. He has previously said the U.S. stands for core principles such as universal human rights such as freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and non-violence.