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article imageCameron releases Egypt statement as violent clashes continue

By Gemma Fox     Feb 2, 2011 in World
London - Speaking at a subdued Prime Ministers Questions this lunchtime, Prime Minister David Cameron spoke of the events taking place in Egypt and how we should stand by those who simply want freedom.
Rather than the usual bun-fighting that generally takes place at Prime Ministers Questions each Wednesday lunch time, viewers and even Members of Parliament were left slightly unsettled when the Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, agreed with each other throughout the whole of Mr Miliband's allocated six questions.
As the subdued debate continued the noise level coming from the backbenchers in the House of Commons grew louder leading to Ed Miliband saying, "I sense that people are not used to this kind of Prime Minister’s questions."
Keeping away from the usual back and forth about the economy, the NHS and education, Ed Miliband limited his questions to points about Afghanistan and the current situation unfolding in Egypt.
Ed Miliband said: I think everybody has been moved by the images we have seen on our screens in the past few days of hundreds of thousands of people, against overwhelming odds, demanding a more democratic future. Following President Mubarak’s statement last night, may I ask the Prime Minister whether he agrees with President Obama that the stable and orderly transition to democracy must be meaningful, peaceful and begin now?
In reply to that statement and question David Cameron answered: We absolutely take that view. The transition needs to be rapid and credible, and it needs to start now. As the right hon. Gentleman says, we should be clear: we stand with those in this country who want freedom, democracy and rights the world over. That should always be our view. We cannot watch the scenes in Cairo without finding it incredibly moving—people wanting to have those aspirations in Egypt, as we have them in our country.
In answering that, Ed Miliband agreed and said: I think the whole House will be pleased by the Prime Minister’s answer and share the view he has expressed. Is it not also clear that, far from indicating support for extremism, the people on the streets of Egypt are demanding some very basic things—jobs, freedom of speech and the right to choose by whom they are governed?
However, as pressure continued to mount on Egyptian autocratic President Hosni Mubarak to step down before his announced time of September, disturbing scenes were emerging from Egypt, Cairo in particular where pro-Mubarak supporters had began to clash with those against him.
Speaking to BBC News one person protesting against the government said, "They started throwing stones at us. Then some of us started throwing stones at them and then we chased them out of the square. They returned once again with the horses and the whips and the thugs."
The claims are that the pro-Mubarak supporters are hired and paid by the government to cause trouble and disruption in places like Tahrir Square.
Later, following PMQs, the Prime Minister met with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Speaking outside of 10 Downing Street Ban Ki-moon warned that instability in the Middle East should not be underestimated and said that he was "deeply concerned."
Calling again for the transition to democracy to be peaceful and orderly Ban Ki-moon said, "Any attack against the peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable and I strongly condemn it."
The Prime Minister then made his statement about the clashes between anti-government and pro-Mubarak protesters. He said: These are despicable scenes that we’re seeing and they should not be repeated. They underline the need for political reform and, frankly, for that political reform to be accelerated and to happen quickly.
We need to see a clear road map for that political reform so that people in Egypt can have confidence that their aspirations for a more democratic future with greater rights is met, and that change needs to start happening now and the violence needs to stop.
However, as darkness fell on Egypt this evening many protesters remained in Tahrir Square.
Jonathan Rugman, a Correspondent for Channel 4 News, said, "The protesters say they are prepared to die before they leave the square - and I have to say that I believe them."
In the square gunfire is still being heard and some reports say that petrol bombs have been thrown at the protesters in the square from people standing on rooftops.
More about David Cameron, Ban ki-moon, Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, Ed Miliband
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