Spain urges Mubarak to bring forward elections

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak must bring forward elections slated for September and put an end to violence "now", Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said Thursday.

"If he wants to manage the transition, he should propose a package of reform measures, bring forward the elections and bring the opposition into the government," she said during an interview with public television TVE.

"Given the circumstances it would be normal for him to decide to step up the elections and give people the chance to voice their opinion," the minister said, adding Mubarak "has the obligation to end the violence in Egypt now."

Mubarak announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in the ballot scheduled for September but would stay in office until then to respond to demands for reform.

The 82-year-old former general is facing mass protests calling for him to quit power, which erupted Wednesday into violent clashes with his supporters. He has ruled Egypt, the world's most populous Arab nation, for 29 years.

The protesters blame his administration for widespread poverty, unemployment, police brutality and corruption.

Spain and four other European nations -- Britain, France, Germany and Italy -- issued a joint statement Thursday urging an immediate political transition to end violent unrest in Egypt.

"Only a quick and orderly transition to a broad-based government will make it possible to overcome the challenges Egypt is now facing," the statement said.

© 2011 AFP

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