Britain urges 'comprehensive' change in Egypt

2nd February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain Tuesday repeated its call for the Egyptian government to bring about "real, visible and comprehensive change" after President Hosni Mubarak announced he would not seek re-election.

"We have been clear... with President Mubarak and his government in private, about the need for a transition to a broader-based government that will produce real, visible and comprehensive change," a Foreign Office statement said.

"President Mubarak has made some proposals to the Egyptian people. We will study the detail of these. Ultimately the real test will be whether the aspirations of the Egyptian people are met," the statement added.

Mubarak appeared on Egyptian state television earlier Tuesday to state that he would not seek re-election in September but rejected demands that brought a million people on to the streets around the country that he quit immediately.

Earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the Egyptian government must "urgently" heed protesters pushing for reform amid the biggest rallies yet against the embattled leader.

Cameron said he had spoken to new Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and confirmed that the British ambassador to Cairo had been in contact with Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei.

"In his calls, the prime minister welcomed the restraint the Egyptian army had shown today and emphasised the importance of allowing the protests to take place peacefully," the premier's Downing Street office said in a statement.

It added: "In addition the British ambassador in Cairo, Dominic Asquith, has had a range of contacts on the ground today with both government and opposition figures, including Mohamed ElBaradei, in which he has set out this approach."

Foreign Secretary William Hague earlier criticised Mubarak's announcement of a new cabinet on Monday in which widely hated interior minister Habib al-Adly and the finance and culture ministers were axed.

"I don't think they've taken a big enough step towards resolving this crisis," Hague told the BBC.

"I don't think it's changed enough, unfortunately. This is not the broad-based government that we have called for, that our European Union partners yesterday joined us in calling for," said Hague.

Cameron's spokesman earlier described the reshuffle as "disappointing".

Hague earlier announced that he was sending a charter plane to Cairo on Wednesday to collect any British nationals who wished to leave Egypt.

© 2011 AFP

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