WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama called for an "orderly and genuine" transition to democracy in Egypt on Thursday, but Hosni Mubarak stopped short of meeting protesters' demands that he step down at once. He did say he was transferring some powers to his vice president.
The Egyptian president, in a televised address from his palace in Cairo, promised a peaceful transfer of power but did not spell out exactly what was next.
He said the demands of protesters calling for his immediate ouster were just, and he said he had requested six constitutional amendments in line with their urging. He said he would lift hated emergency laws when security permitted.
Mubarak also vowed to punish those behind violence over the past two weeks and offered condolences to the families of those killed. He said he was transferring some power to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, but the angry crowd in Cairo's central square clearly was not satisfied.
"We are following today's events in Egypt very closely," President Obama said before Mubarak's speech, adding that he would "have more to say as this plays out."
"What is absolutely clear is we are witnessing history unfold," Obama told students at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich. "It's a moment of transformation."