President Barack Obama has stated that he urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that he must carry out the reforms he pledged to carry out for the Egyptian people.
In an astonishing speech on state television in Egypt earlier, Mubarak said he would dissolve his cabinet and establish a new government tomorrow – but he gave no indication at all that he would step down.
“Going forward this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise,” Obama said.
Apparently, Obama and Mubarak spoke by phone for about half-an-hour after the Egyptian president’s speech.
Obama said he was “very clear” that Egyptian security officers must refrain from violence in their dealings with protestors. But he also urged the protesters themselves must be peaceful.
“Ultimately the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people,” Obama said. “Governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens.”
Earlier, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs suggested the U,S. government would “review” the $1.3-billion of aid Egypt would receive, subject to how Mubarak’s soldiers and police treat the populace.
“The United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people,” Obama said.
Anti-government demonstrations have swept across Egypt despite a 6 am-7 pm curfew imposed by the state and a vow by President Hosni Mubarak to get tough with protesters demanding his ouster.
Following midday prayers, tens of thousands of Egyptians fanned out across streets in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria and other cities, resulting in some cases in violent clashes with policemen. Security forces have reportedly fired rubber bullets and teargas at protesters.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog and an opposition leader in Egypt, returned to his native homeland yesterday, but was placed under house arrest at his home on the outskirts of Cairo.
Upon arrival in Egypt yesterday, ElBaradei told reporters it is a critical time in the life of Egypt. I wish we didn't have to go into the streets to impress upon the regime that they have to change.