5 Feb 2011

Mubarak urged to "make the right decision" by Obama

10:07 pm on 5 February 2011

US President Barack Obama has reiterated his demand for an "orderly transition" in Egypt and urged President Hosni Mubarak "to make the right decision".

Mr Obama did not insist that President Mubarak step down immediately, but repeated his call for a "transition period that begins now".

He spoke on Friday as huge crowds demonstrated across Egypt for an 11th day calling for Mr Mubarak to resign immediately.

"He (President Mubarak) needs to listen to what is voiced by the people and make a judgement about a pathway forward that is orderly, that is meaningful and serious," said Mr Obama in Washington.

"The key question he should be asking himself is: how do I leave a legacy behind in which Egypt is able to get through this transformative period? My hope is he will end up making the right decision."

Mr Obama said he hoped "to see this moment of turmoil turned into a moment of opportunity".

"The whole world is watching," he said.

"I believe that President Mubarak cares about his country. He is proud, but he is also a patriot," Mr Obama said.

"What I've suggested to him is, is that he needs to consult with those who are around him in his government".

"He needs to listen to what is being voiced by the Egyptian people, and make a judgement about a pathway forward that is orderly, but that is meaningful and serious."

A BBC correspondent reports that there were still substantial numbers in Tahrir Square overnight on Friday, and it was a relatively peaceful night although there was some gunfire for a short period.

Meanwhile, there were suggestions that the protesters would reduce their presence in central Cairo, holding big demonstrations only on Fridays, with smaller numbers there at other times.

On Saturday, there were also reports of massive explosions at a pipeline that supplies gas to Israel. The blast cause a fire near the town of el-Arish, Egyptian state television reported.

Talks urged

Earlier, the White House said the Egyptian government needed to sit down as soon as possible with a coalition representing a broad cross-section of Egyptian society.

The opposition has so far refused to attend any talks unless President Mubarak steps down

The protests began on 25 January. Huge crowds demonstrated across the country for an 11th day on Friday calling for the president to resign immediately.

Mr Mubarak, 82, has been in power since 1981. He told ABC News on Thursday that he would like to resign immediately.

But he repeated that the banned opposition group - the Muslim Brotherhood - would fill the power vacuum left by his absence.