Egypt protests 'signal' bid for political change: EU

26th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Protests in Egypt highlight the "wish for political change" and are "a signal" after events in Tunisia, the spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Wednesday.

"The European Union is closely following the demonstrations currently taking place in Cairo as a signal of the yearnings of many Egyptians in the wake of events in Tunisia," said spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic.

As thousands of Egyptians gather in the streets "to declare their wish for political change," the EU called on the Egyptian authorities to respect and protect the right of citizens to express their aspirations in peaceful demonstrations.

The 27-nation bloc urged Cairo "to take note of their legitimate wish for political action to deal with the problems affecting their daily live," Kocijancic said in a statement sent to AFP.

Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle meanwhile said Berlin was "very worried by how the situation in Egypt is developing.

"We call on all the parties to exercise restraint and renounce violence. The situation in Egypt should not be allowed to escalate further and for this reason restraint from violence ... is the order of the day," he said.

"The current situation in Egypt highlights the need for a dialogue in society, it highlights the need for more democracy, respect for people and for human rights. That is the best way to achieve stability," Westerwelle told reporters.

"It is always in places where human rights and civil rights are denied, where freedoms are curtailed that there is a danger of instability and of conflicts within society."

Four people died on Tuesday during unprecedented nationwide rallies seeking to end President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade-long rule.

Activists have called for more protests on Wednesday but the interior ministry said further demonstrations were banned and anyone taking part would be prosecuted.

"The right of people to protest peacefully must be protected -- that applies to all countries," German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular government press briefing.

Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini for his part said in a radio comment, "We hope that President Mubarak continues to govern his country, as he has always done, with wisdom and foresight.

"The world considers Egypt as a reference point for the peace process" in the Middle East, he added.

© 2011 AFP

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