White House Correspondent
Following Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that he would step down from office in September, President Obama rejected the Egyptian leader's timetable and called for an immediate transition to a new government in advance of fall elections.
"Change must take place," Obama said in remarks Tuesday evening at the White House. "My belief is that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now."
Obama said he had spoken with Mubarak earlier and reported that the Egyptian leader "recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable."
The president's statement capped another tumultuous day in Egypt, which saw the largest demonstrations since the anti-government movement took shape last week.
Earlier Tuesday Obama urged Mubarak, who has run the country for nearly 30 years, not to seek another term. The message was delivered by former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner, who was dispatched by the State Department Monday to help Egyptian officials plan elections for fall.
Later, in a televised address, Mubarak announced he would not seek reelection but would serve out the rest of his term, defying demonstrators who want him to leave now. Televised news reports featured protesters greeting the news with boos and shouts of "Go away!" and "Not enough!"
At the White House, Obama affirmed that it "is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt's leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that."
Obama said he believes any transition government should include "a broad spectrum of voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that is not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people."
But with little sign as to who might fill the leadership vacuum once Mubarak leaves office, Obama addressed the uncertainty facing the Egyptian people -- and their allies around the world.
"There will be difficult days ahead," he cautioned. "Many questions about Egypt's future remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt will find those answers."