David Cameron's 'grave concern' over Egypt violence

FILE : Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak attends the opening session of the Arab League Second Economic Forum, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh January 19, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / BREAKINGNEWS.IE) — British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to President Hosni Mubarak tonight to express his “grave concern” about violence against anti-government protesters in Egypt.

Mr Cameron urged the embattled leader to “take bold steps to accelerate political reform and build democratic legitimacy” rather than attempt to repress dissent, according to Downing Street.

In a joint statement with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Cameron added: “The Egyptian people have legitimate grievances and a longing for a just and better future.

“We urge President Mubarak to embark on a process of transformation which should be reflected in a broad-based government and in free and fair elections.”

Mr Cameron made his intervention in a telephone call this evening, as tens of thousands of protesters were still on the streets demanding reforms and an end to Mr Mubarak’s three-decade rule.

More than 50 people are said to have died during five days of clashes with police, and thousands more have been injured.

Mr Mubarak tried to ease the crisis yesterday by sacking his cabinet and appointing a moderate new deputy.

But the UK and US – previously strong allies of the regime – have failed to give their backing.

America has suggested it could withdraw Egypt’s multibillion-dollar aid package if civil liberties are not respected.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has this evening spoken to President Mubarak and expressed his grave concern about the ongoing events, particularly violence on the streets.

“He emphasised that violent repression of peaceful protest was wrong and counter-productive.

“The Prime Minister urged the President to take bold steps to accelerate political reform and build democratic legitimacy, which should be reflected by an inclusive government with the credibility to carry this agenda forward.”

The joint statement from Mr Cameron, Mr Sarkozy and Mrs Merkel voiced “deep concern” about the events.

“We recognise the moderating role President Mubarak has played over many years in the Middle East. We now urge him to show the same moderation in addressing the current situation in Egypt,” it said.

“We call on President Mubarak to avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians, and on the demonstrators to exercise their rights peacefully.

“It is essential that the further political, economic and social reforms President Mubarak has promised are implemented fully and quickly and meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

“There must be full respect for human rights and democratic freedoms, including freedom of expression and communication, including use of telephones and the internet, and the right of peaceful assembly.”   (*)

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