Germany urges end to violence against Egypt protesters

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Germany urged Egyptian security forces Wednesday not to use violence against demonstrators amid deadly clashes in Cairo and called the protesters' demand for democratic transition reasonable.

The government spokesman said that Berlin welcomed the announcement by the country's military ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, that Egypt would hold a presidential election by the end of June -- six months earlier than planned.

"The demonstrators' desire for a quick transition to a civilian government is understandable and we hope that the Egyptian military government will listen to their demands and work on a transition plan toward democracy with the various opposition parties," said the spokesman, Steffen Seibert.

Seibert said the presidential election must be free and fair and called it "a very important test for Egypt on the path to democracy which could set an example for the whole region."

Three people died in Cairo Wednesday, according to a medic, on a fifth day of violence which has killed dozens despite Tantawi's promise to speed up the transition to democracy.

Tantawi, who served as defence minister under Hosni Mubarak but took power when the leader of 30 years was ousted in February, pledged in a rare televised address Tuesday night to move up the election.

He added he was also ready to transfer power immediately, via a referendum, "should the people wish it" in a pledge that met with scepticism among protesters.

Since Mubarak's ouster, demonstrators have grown increasingly angry at the military council which they accuse of being an extension of the old regime and of resorting to Mubarak-era tactics to stifle dissent.

The street violence pits security forces against demonstrators throwing stones and petrol bombs.

© 2011 AFP

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