British deputy PM calls for Egypt transition roadmap

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British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Thursday stressed London's support for the democratic process in Egypt but called for a clear roadmap to a transition from Hosni Mubarak's rule.

At a meeting with activists who helped launch the uprising that toppled Mubarak, Clegg said Britain would stand "shoulder to shoulder ... as we work together to help Egypt complete this journey."

He said Britain would "assist the democratic process and economic reform," through a contribution of five million pounds to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development "to provide technical assistance and extend credit for small and medium sized enterprises."

Britain is also offering "more than £0.5 million to support balanced election media coverage, women candidates and an international presence during the elections," his office said in a statement.

Egypt's first parliamentary elections since the end of Mubarak's 30-year-rule are due to start on November 28.

Clegg, who was to meet Prime Minister Essam Sharaf later, said Britain "wants to see a clear and credible timetable for transition, along with a lifting of the harsh and outdated Emergency Law."

"Egyptians deserve clear guarantees on human rights including women's rights. Citizens of all backgrounds and faiths must be assured of their place in Egypt's future, and all minorities must be given proper protections under the law," Clegg said.

Egypt's political and economic outlook has been mired in uncertainty since Mubarak was ousted and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces -- a military junta led by Mubarak's longtime defence minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi -- took power.

Activists involved in the uprising charge the army has been reluctant to carry out genuine reforms. Heightened frustration has led to protests, strikes and deadly clashes.

© 2011 AFP

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