Washington, Feb 11 (IANS) Keeping a close watch on developments in Egypt as speculation mounted that President Hosni Mubarak would step down Thursday night, US President Barack Obama said “we are witnessing history unfold” and pledged support for a democratic transition.
Obama said Thursday it was “absolutely clear” that history was being made in Egypt.
“We are following today’s events in Egypt very closely and we’ll have more to say as this plays out,” DPA quoted Obama as saying.
“But what is absolutely clear is we are witnessing history unfold.”
He praised young Egyptians and all segments of the society for the “extraordinary” movement to change the country while delivering a speech on an unrelated issue at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.
“We want those young people, and we want all Egyptians, to know America will continue to do everything we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt.”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was quoted as saying by The Atlantic website that “we’re watching a very fluid situation” on the ground in Egypt.
President Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt since 1981, is under pressure to leave following growing protests across the country against him. The defiant protesters have continued their demonstrations at Cairo’s Tahrir square and refused to budge till their demand for Mubarak’s ouster was met.
The embattled president has said he is ready to step down in September when his term ends, but not now. The protests against Mubarak entered the 17th day Thursday.
CIA Director Leon Panetta has told the US Congress that there is a strong likelihood that the Egyptian embattled president will step down Thursday night.
The Barack Obama administration has been working on a proposal for Mubarak to quit now and turn over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military.
Egypt receives about $1.3 billion in military aid from Washington every year, second only to Israel, and has received nearly $30 billion in economic aid since 1975, according to State Department figures.