Australia calls for election timetable to steer new Egypt

February 12th, 2011 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Kevin Rudd Sydney, Feb 12 (IANS) Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd Saturday said Egypt must now have a clear timetable for free and fair elections, following the resignation of Hosni Mubarak as president. A joint statement by the prime minister and foreign minister said fundamental reform was needed to “ensure the opportunity and freedoms that ordinary Egyptians have been calling for”.

“Australia calls for constitutional reform and a clear timetable towards free and fair elections and a representative civilian government that ordinary Egyptians have been calling for,” The Australian quoted the leaders as saying in an official joint statement.

All Australians will have been moved by “the joy we saw in Cairo’s Tahrir Square”.

Earlier, Rudd told ABC Radio that Mubarak’s resignation was a historic event and a time of great celebration for the people of Egypt.

“What we’ve seen over the last 18 days is the people of Egypt protesting peacefully, but courageously in the streets of Cairo and other centres across Egypt.”

He said the Egyptian people have demanded “what peoples all over the world ultimately demand, which is the transformation to a government which they themselves can properly and democratically elect”.

The Australian government “salutes the courage of the Egyptian people and we look forward to working with the authorities in Egypt on the future development of the Egyptian democracy”, the Australian news agency AAP quoted Kevin Rudd as saying.

Rudd, however, warned there were many open questions facing the Egyptian people and the international community.

“The first of those questions is the precise role of the military council now in paving the way towards democratic elections.

“Furthermore, what is the continuing role of the interim cabinet appointed by then-president Mubarak and Vice-President (Omar) Suleiman?

“Thirdly, will there be a new interim government appointed for the purposes of making revisions to the Egyptian Constitution to hold the elections?

“And fourthly, what would be the timetable for such elections?”

Rudd said the process towards democratic transformation and the holding of free and fair elections “must be made clear as soon as possible”.

“The process must be agreed upon peacefully and the preparations must be in accordance with the proper process,” he said.

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