UN ready to help Egypt’s democratic transition, says UN chief

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CAIRO: The United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed the January 25 Revolution, adding that the UN and the international community are ready to help in the democratic transition of Egypt and other Middle East countries.

Ban said Monday in a panel discussion at El-Sawy Culture Wheel during his visit to Egypt that he was eager to learn about the aspirations and concerns of the Egyptian people and how they expect the UN to help in this "historic, exciting and dramatic time of change."

"People gathering in Tahrir Square inspired the world with a call for unity and change and we answered from all the corners of the world, we are all Egyptians," said Ban.

"Your ancestors built the wonders of the ancient world, [and] we look forward that you build a modern day pyramid of democracy in the heart of the Arab world," he added.

Earlier in the day Ban met with top officials from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the government.

"I requested from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to make a public commitment to democratic change, listen to numerous voices, lift the state of emergency, [conduct] fair and free elections and to initiate an inclusive and transparent dialogue with the full spectrum of society," he said.

He also said that Egyptians are rising to the challenge and the UN is a reliable development partner, ready to provide help when needed.

"You must lay a firm foundation of free and fair elections and a new constitution that ensures the rule of law and allowing vibrant and inclusive political parties, the UN can be a partner in all this," he said.

Ban also met with youth and civil society representatives and hailed their sense of responsibility.

"They have a vision and sense of responsibility but they want support from the international community with regards to socio-economic development and I was impressed by their passion to make their country more developed and more prosperous," he said.

Around 50 demonstrators loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi surrounded the UN chief in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Monday forcing him to retreat into the adjacent Arab League headquarters.

"I was welcomed here by many people, some were positive and others were unexpected, this is a very democratic and free society and I am prepared to receive such expression," he said.

He added that the UN Security Council intervened in Libya through military operations and enforcing a no-fly zone to protect civilians and not for occupation.

"The more we waited, more civilians [would have been] killed. Time was of essence and the urgency, grievance and seriousness of the situation is why the Security Council acted in a decisive way to protect civilians," he said.

He said that the peaceful revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia proved the power of non-violent resistance to change history.

"What happened in Egypt will have wider implications in the Middle East; Egypt’s revolution has been largely peaceful and we hope Egypt will continue to serve as an inspiring example," Ban said.

He urged for a greater regional role for Egypt.

"During the past six decades Egypt had a great role in the close coordination for peace in the Middle East. You should feel proud, now you will have a stronger role being a more democratic and prosperous country with more legitimacy," he said.

"Everybody is looking to Egypt, be proud that you are moving to a new chapter that assumes greater responsibility; a reborn Egypt will lead to a reborn Middle East," he added.



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