British PM calls for `reform` in Egypt

British foreign secretary said Egypt protesters had "legitimate" grievances.

London: British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday that reform was needed in Egypt as protests against President Hosni Mubarak`s rule escalated.

"What we need is reform in Egypt," Cameron, who has been at the Davos summit of political and business leaders in Switzerland, told CNN television.

"I mean we support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of their democracy and civil rights and the rule of law. Clearly there are grievances that people have and they need to be met and matched.”

"I don`t think it`s in anyone`s interest that people are being killed on the streets of Egypt as we speak at the moment and so I hope the violence will cease.”

"But clearly, when you have people who have grievances and problems that want them responded to, it`s in all our interests that these countries have stronger rule of law, stronger rights, stronger democracy."

Cameron`s comments were released by his Downing Street office in London.

"In the past, sometimes we in the West have taken a rather simple view that what matters is just the act of holding an election," he added.

"Real democracy is about the building blocks you put in place about the rule of law, the rights, the strength of your civil society, the freedoms you have in that country.”

"We need to take a more mature and thoughtful approach to these countries and recognise it is those building blocks that in the end make your country democratic, strong, accountable -- all the things we believe in the West.”

"Rather than simply believing democracy is just the act of going to the polls, it is so much more than that."

He said Britain knew this from its own history "and we need to apply that thinking to other countries too".

The British government warned against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez. The announcement does not affect Egypt`s Red Sea resorts or transits through Cairo airport.

"The safety of British nationals is absolutely paramount. In light of the ongoing demonstrations in Egypt we have carefully reviewed our advice," Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.

The Foreign Office was not yet advising British nationals to leave the country, it said.

Earlier, Hague said the protesters had "legitimate" economic and political grievances and urged all sides to refrain from violence.

"I`m very concerned about the pictures that we`ve seen coming from Egypt," Hague said.

"There are clearly huge numbers of people on the streets, there is a great danger of violence and so we do call on all involved to refrain from violence.”

"And I think it`s important to recognise that the people involved do have legitimate grievances – economic grievances and political grievances.”

"And it`s very important for the authorities to respond positively to that, and to be able to hold out the hope and prospect of reform in the future. That is the answer to these situations, rather than repression."

Bureau Report