WASHINGTON - The United States has expressed serious concern over what it considered as the Egyptian ruling military council's move to delay power transfer to a civilian govt following the presidential election. "We're particularly concerned by decisions that appear to prolong the military's hold on power," State Department's spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters. The US urged the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in Egypt "to restore popular and international confidence in the democratic transition process by following through on their stated commitments," she added.

Nuland was making the comments on the just-concluded presidential election held Sunday in Egypt, which was won by Mohamed Morsi, a member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, after defeating his rival and a former premier under President Hosni Mubarak, Ahmed Shafiq.

The SCAF, which took over power in February 2011 after former president Mubarak was ousted amid mass protests, told a press conference in Cairo on Monday that it promised to transfer power to the elected president by the end of this month, the official Egyptian news agency MENA reported.

But the SCAF issued a supplementary constitutional declaration on Sunday night to retake legislative powers after the parliament was dissolved several days ago, a move seen by the US as a bid by the Egyptian military to prolong its hold on power.

"What we want to see is a democratically elected president, a democratically elected parliament, a constitution that reflects the will of the Egyptian people, and a full transfer of power back to civilian rule as quickly as possible," Nuland said.

She said the US stands with the Egyptian people in their aspiration to choose their own leaders, stressing that there "can be no going back on the democratic transition."

The US Defence Department also expressed deep concerns on Monday about the SCAF's new amendments to Egypt's constitutional declaration and the timing of the announcement.

"We have, and will continue, to urge the SCAF to relinquish power to civilian-elected authorities and to respect the universal rights of the Egyptian people and the rule of law," Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.