France regrets Egypt demo deaths as Cairo bans new protests
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France deplores the deaths during Egypt’s day of anger protests, Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie said on Wednesday. With another demonstrator reported to have died in Suez, the Egyptian government has banned further protests.
The latest death brings the number of demonstrators killed to three, while one police officer is also reported to have died.
The demonstrators all died in Suez, reportedly after being hit by rubber bullets. The third man is said to have been shot in the stomach.
"I can only deplore that there were deaths, two among the demonstrators, one among the police," Alliot-Marie told France's RTL radio, before the latest announcement came through. "One must be able to demonstrate without there being violence, let alone deaths.”
The minister insisted that France is not interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs but appealing for democracy and freedom. And she insisted that "situations are different in every country", when asked about similarities with the Tunisian uprising, which Egyptian protesters cited as an inspiration for their movement.
Egypt's Interior Ministry on Wednesday banned further protests and threatened to prosecute anyone attempting to demonstrate. Earlier, the 6 April Movement – one of the organisations that launched Tuesday’s rallies – called for a new mobilisation to follow up on Tuesday’s massive turnout.
"To continue what we started on 25 January, we will take to the streets to demand the right to life, liberty, dignity and we call on everyone to take to the streets... and to keep going until the demands of the Egyptian people have been met," the group said on its Facebook page.
The Twitter microblogging service confirmed late Tuesday that its website was blocked in Egypt. Twitter and Facebook have been widely used in the movement, as they were in Tunisia.
Italy hopes that President Hosni Mubarak, who is the target of much of the protesters’ anger, will “continue to rule his country with wisdom and foresight, as he has always done”, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini declared in a radio interview.
The country plays an essential role in the Middle East peace process, Frattini said.
Egypt was the first Arab country to recognise Israel in 1979.
Israel hopes that the Egyptian authorities will grant freedom and rights to their citizens, while maintaining good relations with Israel, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Wednesday.
The White House called on Egypt to be “responsive” to its people’s aspirations and declared its support for Egyptians’ rights top freedom of expression and assembly, in a statement issued late Tuesday.
The Mubarak government “is stable and looking for ways to respond to the
legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people”, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters, adding that “all parties” should exercise restraint.
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