UN chief, Merkel press Egypt to guarantee freedoms

January 28, 2011 20:17

DAVOS, Switzerland — UN chief Ban Ki-moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed Egypt on Friday to safeguard freedom of speech and association, even as Egypt's military deployed to the streets and Internet connections were shut down to quell protests.

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had been closely following the protests, first in Tunisia and now in Egypt and Yemen.

"I believe that one of the ground principles of democracy should be to protect the freedom of speech of the people," Ban said when asked about the disruption of Internet and cell-phone data service in parts of the country.

Ban said Middle East leaders should view the protests as a chance to address the "legitimate concerns" of their people and urged authorities to refrain from violence against demonstrators.

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