Germany calls for 'new democratic era' in Egypt

2nd February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany hopes that a "new democratic era" has begun in Egypt, giving millions of people the freedom and human rights that they want, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said on Wednesday.

"The (German) government is pressing for and hoping for a speedy transition to a new era of democracy and full civil rights in Egypt," spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular government briefing.

"It is not up to us outside to say what the timeframe should be and by which personalities and groups this path should be taken.

"We are just hoping very much that at the end of this path we actually see what millions of people on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria are clearly dreaming of, namely freedom and human rights."

Earlier, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle gave a cautious welcome to what he said was an opening of the way to a "new political beginning" by President Hosni Mubarak in his speech on national TV on Tuesday night.

"It is good President Mubarak has opened the way for a new political beginning. We will have to see what role he himself plays," Westerwelle said in an interview on German radio.

"What is important is that these announcements are followed by concrete action and that dialogue with all political forces occurs ... We do not want those on the streets to be pressured by violence."

The embattled Mubarak announced late on Tuesday that he did not intend to run for another term in September elections after days of protests against his rule that have left some 300 people dead and more than 3,000 injured.

Westerwelle did not comment on the specifics of Mubarak's speech and stopped short of calling on the 82-year-old to step down immediately.

US President Barack Obama, who spoke to Mubarak after the speech, went on television to say he had told the Egyptian president that an orderly transition needed to begin immediately.

Westerwelle added there was no reason to change Germany's travel advice, saying: "Up until now, we have no indication that tourists are in concrete danger, but we urgently advise against travelling to Egypt."

Supporters of embattled Mubarak clashed violently on Wednesday with opposition protesters after storming their rally in central Cairo, leaving several people hurt, witnesses said.

© 2011 AFP

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