Britain says Egypt violence worrying but sees optimism

21st November 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday the outbreak of violence that has left 22 dead in Egypt was worrying but denied it showed hopes were fading for democracy in the Arab world.

"It is worrying, it is of great concern to us, particularly the loss of life and the number of injuries," Hague told BBC radio.

He called on Egypt's military rulers to ensure they keep their word to oversee the first elections, on November 28, since long-time leader Hosni Mubarak was ousted.

However, Hague ruled out calling for the army to bow to protesters' demands that the military hand over to an "unformed" administration.

Hague said: "There are many things that the military rulers in Egypt need to do, but I don't think that involves the handover of power to unformed authorities.

"I think it is important that they oversee the elections that are now taking place and that following those elections, which are meant to produce the assembly that comes up with a new constitution, the arrival of that constitution and a civilian president comes as soon as possible."

Hague said that despite the alarming scenes in Cairo, the Arab Spring had brought about change in the region and he urged optimism.

"We do have these problems in Egypt but elections are about to take place and of course we have seen successful elections in Tunisia, a new government is now being formed in Libya, important reforms are taking place in Morocco and Jordan.

"So we should remain on the optimistic side of what is happening in the Arab Spring, albeit there will be many conflicts and difficulties along the way."

Following violence on Sunday, fresh clashes erupted on Monday in Tahrir Square in Cairo between police and protesters demanding the end of military rule.

© 2011 AFP

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