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EGYPT: European leaders praise Mubarak departure

February 11, 2011 | 11:21 am

French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Egyptian leaders Friday to take steps toward free elections following Hosni Mubarak's resignation.

“France ardently hopes the new Egyptian authorities will take steps that lead to establishment of democratic institutions through free and transparent elections,” Sarkozy said in a statement issued by his Elysee Palace office, according to Reuters.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also praised Mubarak's departure on CNN, saying, “It is necessary that this development is irreversible and that it leads to a freer Egypt," and adding, "At the end of this process, there must be free elections."

British Prime Minister David Cameron told Reuters that Friday was "a remarkable day, particularly for those people in Tahrir Square and elsewhere, who have spoken out so bravely and so peacefully for change in their country."

"Egypt now has a really precious moment of opportunity to have a government that can bring the country together, and as a friend of Egypt and the Egyptian people, we stand ready to help in any way that we can," Cameron said.

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said the EU also supports Mubarak's resignation.

"By standing down, he has listened to the voices of the Egyptian people and has opened the way to faster and deeper reforms," Ashton told Reuters. "It is important now that the dialogue is accelerated, leading to a broad-based government which will respect the aspirations of, and deliver stability for, the Egyptian people."

--  Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Egyptians celebrate the news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who handed control of the country to the military, in front of the Egyptian museum in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday. Credit: Ben Curtis / Associated Press