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White House Pressures Egyptian Military to Cede Power

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As tens of thousands of Egyptians poured into Cairo’s Tahrir Square demanding a more expeditious transition to democracy, the White House joined the fray Friday, ratcheting up pressure on Egypt’s interim military rulers to cede power “as soon as possible.”

“The United States strongly believes that the new Egyptian government must be empowered with real authority immediately,” the Obama administration said in a statement.

“We believe that Egypt’s transition to democracy must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation. Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible.”

The Egyptian military council governing the country since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak appointed ex-Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri on Thursday to form a new government after the previous military-appointed civilian cabinet resigned, according to state-run media reports. Officials have promised parliamentary elections will begin across Egypt next week.

But the restless protesters have vowed to continue agitating in the streets and occupying Tahrir Square until a full transfer of authority to civilian power has occurred. They dubbed the Friday protest the “Last Chance Million-Man Protest.”

The White House defended the protests in their statement, condemning any excessive use of force against the Egyptian people.

“We deeply regret the loss of life, and urge the Egyptian authorities to implement an independent investigation into the circumstances of those deaths,” the administration said. “But the situation Egypt faces requires a more fundamental solution, devised by Egyptians, which is consistent with universal principles.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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