Egypt transition needs to start now: British PM

2nd February 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that political change in Egypt must begin immediately, adding his voice to international pressure on embattled President Hosni Mubarak.

"The transition needs to be rapid and credible and needs to start now," Cameron told parliament when asked whether Mubarak's announcement on Tuesday that he would not stand in elections later this year was sufficient.

"You can't watch the scenes in Cairo without finding it incredibly moving about people wanting to have those aspirations in Egypt as we have them in our country," Cameron added.

Pro and anti-Mubarak supporters clashed in Cairo on Wednesday, a day after the president addressed the nation on television, pledging he would not run for re-election in September after three decades of rule.

Cameron was asked whether he supported the reaction of US President Barack Obama, who went on US television to say he had told the Egyptian president that an orderly transition needed to begin immediately.

"Political reform is what is required, not repression, and we've made that clear in the all the calls I've made, including to President Mubarak and yesterday to the Egyptian prime minister," Cameron told lawmakers.

"The key question is have they done enough? Now President Mubarak says he is going, and we respect that, but what matters is not just the orderly transition but also that it is urgent, it is credible and it starts now."

Cameron said that reform in Egypt was also vital for stability across the Middle East.

"We should take the view that the long-term interests of Britain are from a stable Middle East and a stable Arab world and we won't get that stability unless they make moves towards greater democracy," he said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also stepped up the pressure on Mubarak Wednesday, saying in a statement that a "concrete transition process" in Egypt should start "without delay."

© 2011 AFP

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