Egyptians have a right to democracy: Iraq PM

Iraq`s prime minister said that Egyptians have the right to democracy.

Last Updated: Feb 05, 2011, 23:56 PM IST

Baghdad: Iraq`s prime minister said on Saturday
that Egyptians have the right to democracy, after nearly two
weeks of deadly protests in Egypt demanding that President
Hosni Mubarak step down.

"I wish the Egyptian people to achieve democracy and
partnership," Nuri al-Maliki said in an interview.

"The people have the right to express what they want
without being persecuted or prevented from their right to
express themselves," the prime minister said.

His comments came as international calls for Mubarak`s
resignation grew louder.

US President Barack Obama yesterday hinted that the
veteran leader should step down, saying the "patriot" should
"listen to what is being voiced by the Egyptian people."

Maliki, whose country`s longtime dictator Saddam Hussein
was ousted in a 2003 US-led invasion, said that for a leader
to rule for three decades, as Mubarak has done, was not
democracy.

"One of the characteristics of a lack of democracy could
be when a leader rules for 30 or 40 years," Maliki said. "It
is a difficult issue for people, may be intolerable, and
change is necessary," he added.

Maliki said his advice to Egyptians was to eschew
violence, and that the country`s leaders should not consider
giving up power as a defeat.

"Our advice to the people is practise your right without
sabotage and violence and destruction to your country because
it is your country," the Iraqi leader said.

"Our advice to officials is, don`t consider it a defeat
when you give an opportunity to others and give your positions
-- your country needs this development."

In a 12th day of protests in Cairo today, gunfire
crackled on the square where thousands spent a chilly night
encircled by tanks.

Ferocious clashes between Mubarak loyalists and the
protesters on Wednesday and Thursday left at least eight
people dead and more than 800 hurt. Egyptian journalist Ahmed
Mohammed Mahmud died yesterday of gunshot wounds.

According to UN estimates, more than 300 people have been
killed since the protests began.

PTI