Wave of revolts in Arab world 'irrepressible': French FM

24th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The wave of anti-government, pro-democracy revolts sweeping across much of the Arab world is "irrepressible," France's top diplomat said Thursday, citing Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as examples.

"I thing that this movement is irrepressible. There will no doubt be dictators who will try to stay on, but they will not be able to resist in the long run," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told journalists.

"Over time, this movement will prevail everywhere, and I hope it will happen in as short a time as possible."

Juppe said the aspiration for liberty and democracy must be respected in all countries, and condemned the use of violence by regimes faced with mass protests.

"We appeal for dialogue, whether it is in Bahrain, Yemen or Syria. I am not going to cite the (full) list of countries in which the wave of freedom has risen," Juppe said.

"This is a marvelous opportunity, it is a major and historic event. We must not be afraid," he added.

Bahrain, which is ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa royal family, has been rocked by Shiite-led demonstrations.

In Syria, more than 100 people were reportedly shot dead Wednesday in the volatile southern city of Daraa, hub of a week of anti-regime protests, as anger reportedly spread to neighbouring towns.

And in Yemen, parliament has approved a state of emergency declared by the embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh despite an plea from young Yemenis that it could lead to further repression of anti-regime protests.

When asked whether his comments applied to Saudi Arabia, Juppe said: "They apply to all the countries in the region."

At the same time, he added, the specific conditions of each nation must be taken into account, including problems related to different ethnic and religious communities, notably the relations between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province, where most of the country's Shiite minority lives, has been rocked by protests in recent days.

© 2011 AFP

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