US President Barack Obama said on Friday that the transition of power in Egypt must begin now but the details of the process have to be worked out by Egyptians.
"The future of Egypt will be determined by its people," Obama said at a joint news conference with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as Egyptian protests continued aimed at ousting President Hosni Mubarak.
Obama called on Mubarak to heed the call of the Egyptian people for an orderly transition of power, saying the country could not go back to the "old ways."
The president cautioned that "the entire world is watching" and said the issues at stake in Egypt would not be resolved through violence. He condemned attacks on journalists and human rights activists, without blaming the government for them.
However, Obama declined to say whether he thought Mubarak should leave office now or stay in power until elections can be held. Obama says the key question Mubarak should be asking himself is how he can leave behind a legacy that allows for an orderly transition for his country.
Meanwhile, mass protests continued on Friday throughout the country, with a reported crowd of some two million people in the capital's Tahrir Sqaure.
In the name of the flag. Protesters in Cairo on Friday (Photo: AFP)
Global media networks, including CNN, reported of clashes between Mubarak supporters and opponents in another Cairo square, some half a kilometer away from Tahrir Square.
The crowds used sticks and hurled stones at each other. Gunshot fire was also reported, but the altercation did not reach the scale that was reported in the capital on Wednesday, which left hundreds injured.
Another report claimed that Mubarak supporters tried to block the opposition from protesting.
State-run newspaper Al-Ahram said an Egyptian reporter shot during clashes earlier this week has died of his wounds, the first reported journalist death in 11 days of turmoil surrounding Egypt's wave of anti-government protests.
Al-Ahram says Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud, 36, was taking pictures of clashes on the streets from the balcony of his home, not far from Tahrir Square when he was "shot by a sniper" four days ago. It says in a report on its website that he died Friday in the hospital.
Praying in Tahrir Sqaure (Photo: Reuters)
CNN reported that the government's largest opposition group – the Muslim Brotherhood – claimed on Friday that military forces raided the offices of the news channel run by the organization. According to the organization, the force was accompanied by "a group of thugs."
Earlier, Qatar based Al-Jazeera network also reported of a similar raid on its offices in the Egyptian capital.
Also on Friday, Al Arabiya network reported that Egypt's newly elected Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said it was unlikely Mubarak would hand presidential powers to his newly appointed deputy Omar Suleiman.
"We need the president for legislative reasons," Al Arabiya quoted Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq as saying in a headline.
On Friday afternoon, European Union leaders joined Obama's call and urged Egyptian authorities to meet the aspirations of the people with "reform not repression."
"The European Council is following with utmost concern the deteriorating situation in Egypt," the EU's 27 leaders said in a joint statement issued during a summit in Brussels.
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