Obama to Mubarak: Legacy is at stake by holding on to power

Obama to Mubarak: Legacy is at stake by holding on to power

Insisting that Egyptians will decide their own future, President Obama suggested Friday that Egyptian President Mubarak's legacy will be defined by how soon he leaves office.

Obama, joined at a press conference by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said that because Mubarak "made the psychological break" that resulted in his decision to not run for reelection in September, the nearly 30-year ruler must now arrange for an orderly and meaningful transition.


"The key question he has to ask himself is: 'How do I leave a legacy behind in which Egypt can get through this transformation period?'" Obama said. "And my hope is he will end up making the right decision."

Obama condemned the violence and targeting of journalists in Egypt in recent days, sending a "strong and unequivocal message" that violence instigated by either the government or protesters is "unacceptable."

With violence largely quieted on Friday after a bloody Thursday, Obama said he was "encouraged by the restraint that was shown today, and we hope it continues."

Protesters had days ago dubbed Friday the "Day of Departure," by which they had hoped to get Mubarak to step down, but he showed no signs of relenting.

While Obama said he believes that Mubarak "cares about his country," he said the Egyptian president needs to listen to his people, his advisers and the international community and "make a judgment about a pathway forward that is orderly but also meaningful and serious."

"He is proud, but he is also a patriot," Obama said.

Recently appointed Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman told ABC's Christiane Amanpour on Thursday that Mubarak had no plans of fleeing the country, saying Mubarak was a "fighter" and the crisis wouldn't play out like Tunisia.

"What I hear from President Obama is that he is supporting the people," he said. "President Obama told our president that he is a brave man." 

Eleven people have been killed in 11 days of protests that turned Congress' focus over the past week to the cradle of civilization and sparked cries from some lawmakers to cut off the more than $1 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt unless Mubarak leaves.

Mubarak told ABC that serving out the remainder of his term is critical to stability.

"You don't understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now," he said he told Obama.