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UN chief urges peaceful transition after Mubarak resignation

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called again for a transparent, orderly and peaceful transition in Egypt after hearing of President Hosni Mubarak’s decision to step down after weeks of anti-government protests, and commended the Egyptian people for making their voices heard.

According to media reports, Vice-President Omar Suleiman announced on state television that Mr. Mubarak, who has been in power for 30 years, had resigned on Friday and had handed over power to the military.

“I respect what must have been a difficult decision, taken in the wider interests of the Egyptian people,” Mr. Ban told reporters at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

“At this historic moment, I reiterate my call, made as recently as last night, for a transparent, orderly and peaceful transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people and includes free, fair and credible elections leading to the early establishment of civilian rule.

“I urge the interim authorities to chart a clear path forward with the participation of all stakeholders,” he added.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson last night, Mr. Ban had emphasized that it is for the Egyptian people to determine their future.

“The voice of the Egyptian people, particularly the youth, has been heard, and it is for them to determine the future of their country,” he stated today.

“I commend the people of Egypt for the peaceful and courageous and orderly manner in which they have exercised their legitimate rights. I call on all parties to continue in the same spirit.”

He added that it is vital that human rights and civil liberties are fully respected, and that genuine and inclusive dialogue is assured, and reiterated the UN’s readiness to assist the country.

In a related development, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today that amid the continuing political turmoil in Egypt, the agency has been working through key partners to provide financial support and medical help to refugees in Cairo while its staff have been manning telephone hotlines from their homes.

UNHCR’s partner on the ground in Egypt, Caritas, is distributing financial help and offering medical support to refugees in Cairo who are particularly vulnerable at this time. There are 107,000 refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt of which 39,680 are registered with UNHCR. Most refugees come from Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

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