obama-jan2411-00056581a

U.S. President Barack Obama: Egypt needs a 'credible, concrete and unequivocal' path to democracy. ((Associated Press))

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak failed to set out a path for transition to democracy and needs to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world, U.S. President Barack Obama says.

"The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity," Obama said in a written statement issued in Washington.

He was reacting to Mubarak's televised speech to the country earlier in the day, in which he said he was staying on until a September election. Mubarak also announced he was transferring some of his powers to vice-president Omar Suleiman.

The U.S. response came at the end of a day when the world — apparently including some in the U.S. administration — expected Mubarak would resign and pave the way for transition and an election in September, answering the demands of thousands in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

"As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people," Obama said.

"But the United States has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met."

The U.S. statement said Egypt's emergency law should be lifted and that meaningful negotiations should begin with those opposing the government to:

  • Protect the fundamental rights of Egyptian citizens.
  • Revise the constitution and other laws to demonstrate irreversible change.
  • Develop a clear roadmap to elections that are free and fair.

The president also urged restraint on all sides and avoidance of violence.

Earlier, Thursday, Central Intelligence Agency director Leon Panetta said U.S. intelligence indicated that Mubarak was on his way out. Panetta told Congress his information indicated a "high likelihood" that Mubarak could be out by Thursday night.