World Leaders Urge Mubarak to Take Immediate Steps Toward Democracy

France, Turkey and U.S. call for peaceful transition after Mubarak announces plans to step down following the end of his term.

World leaders urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday to take immediate steps for democracy, after he announced that he would not seek re-election once his term ends.

The process of political transition in Egypt needs to start now, a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday. "We think the process needs to be an orderly transition. The process needs to begin now," the spokesman told reporters.

Egypt protests - AFP - Jan 30, 2011

The European Union called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's decision not to stand for re-election a step in the right direction on Tuesday, but said his new cabinet did not constitute a representative government.

In a statement, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton also said The European Union was ready to support the Egyptian people in their quest for a better future.

"The EU is calling for an orderly transition through a broad-based government leading to a genuine process of substantial democratic reform with full respect of the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms," she said.

"Unfortunately, the appointed new cabinet does not constitute such a broad based representative government."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Mubarak to begin a process of transition "without delay."

"Following President Mubarak's speech, the president of the republic reiterates his wish that a concrete process of transition begin immediately to respond to the desire for change and renewal strongly expressed by the population," Sarkozy said in a statement.

Sarkozy called on "all Egypt's leaders" to ensure that such a transition took place "without violence" and said France would continue to support Egyptians' desire for an "open, democratic and diverse society."

Mubarak, 82, said late Tuesday he would step down in September, at the end of his term in office, but defied demands by the largest protests in over a generation for his immediate resignation.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Mubarak's transition from the presidency "must begin now."

France, which was criticized for supporting Tunisia's authoritarian leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali until his ouster, has been more vocal in its criticism of Mubarak's handling of anti-government protests in Egypt.

Hours after Mubarak announced his plans to retire later this year, U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday: "What is clear, and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak, is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now."

"Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices in opposition parties," Obama said, adding that such a move "should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that's not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people."

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan said Mubarak's actions so far were insufficient, the semi-official Anatolia Agency reported.

Erdogan categorized Mubarak's announcement Tuesday night that he would not stand for re-election after his term ends in September as inadequate in the face of the Egyptian people's demands for change.

"Mubarak is now expected to take a very different step; this is the people's expectation. The current administration is not inspiring confidence for a quick transition to democracy," Erdogan said.

Erdogan made his comments at a press conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where he was meeting with his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Arambayev on an official visit.

His remarks came a day after he first called on Mubarak to recognize the Egyptian people's demands for change and democracy - the first public statement from Turkey's leadership on the political unrest in Egypt.

In his statement Wednesday, Erdogan urged Mubarak to announce a road map and calendar for a transition to democracy and emphasized the need for a transitional government.

Erdogan added that he was only expressing his view as an outsider and that it was not his right or intention to interfere in Egypt's internal affairs.

In recent statements, Turkish leaders have said Turkey should serve as a democratic model for other countries in the Middle East.