Egypt must respect freedom of expression: UN's Ban

28th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Egypt's government on Friday that "freedom of expression should be fully respected" as it addresses a wave of popular protest.

Asked at the Davos conference about Egypt's decision to block Internet use in the wake of the demonstrations, Ban said: "Freedom of expression and association should be fully respected."

Ban also called more broadly for governments in the region facing protest -- such as Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen -- to listen to their people and address what he said were "legitimate concerns".

"I have been very closely following the situation which has been happening in that region, starting from Tunisia, then Egypt now Yemen and elsewhere," he told reporters on the sidelines of the business summit.

"What I have been saying repeatingly is that first of all, all concerned people or leaders should ensure that the situation in that region, particularly now in Egypt, does not and should not lead to further violence," he said.

"And I have been calling on the authorities to see all this situation as an opportunity to engage in addressing the legitimate concerns and wishes of their people," he said.

"The leaders of their countries have a broad responsibility and at the same time a mandate to listen attentively to the wishes of their people," he said.

Egypt cut mobile phone and Internet services on Friday and sent columns of riot police trucks into Cairo in a bid to thwart thousands of activists due to join anti-regime protests after noon prayers.

© 2011 AFP

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