Davos 2011: Calls for stability in Egypt

Protesters in Cairo, 28 January 2011 Tens of thousands took part in the protests in Cairo and other cities

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan wants Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to start a dialogue with his people in the wake of ongoing protests.

"I hope the government of Egypt will restore security and peace," Mr Kan said in a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The unrest in Egypt has now become one of the major topics of discussion amongst the leaders at the gathering.

Meanwhile Tunisia has told Davos the country is "open for business" again.

'Tourism disrupted'

There was an uprising in the north African country two weeks ago which saw President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali toppled after 23 years in power.

But Mustapha Kamel Nabli, new Tunisian Central Bank Governor, told WEF delegates that there was now a "much more favourable business environment".

"We don't see any major difficulties and would like to make this clear to investors," he added.

He said people were returning to work, public services were working, and that the financial and banking system was holding steady, as was liquidity and the exchange rate.

"Clearly tourism has been disrupted but we hope this will be a transitory problem, and tourism will come back to regular levels," he said.

Start Quote

Anything that threatens development is a concern for us”

End Quote Angel Gurria OECD secretary general

Mr Nabli also criticised the agencies that downgraded Tunisia's credit rating after the unrest.

He called the reaction "a little bit weird" as the political changes would improve the business environment and "root out cronyism".

The downgrade would probably make it more expensive to borrow on the open markets, the central bank governor said.

So as a result, Tunisia had decided to postpone a planned bond issue. "We can afford to wait," Mr Nabli added.

'Concern'

The head of the OECD said he feared the impact of the ongoing instability in Egypt.

"Anything that threatens development is a concern for us," says Angel Gurria.

Meanwhile Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty said the protests in Egypt should be a "wake-up call" for the economic, political and business elite meeting in Davos.

"It is time the rhetoric on human rights and reform delivered here is matched with genuine steps to uphold the rights of people."

Economist Nouriel Roubini reported that an impromptu session had been arranged to discuss the instability in Egypt and Tunisia.

'Positive' opportunity

Also speaking in Davos, US Senator John Kerry said Mr Mubarak needed to respond to the concerns of his citizens.

Mr Kerry told BBC World the situation in Egypt was critical, and of enormous concern to everybody in the region and the world.

"The key is for Mr Mubarak to respond adequately to real frustrations and pent-up demand in the general population of Egypt."

He added: "He [Mubarak] can turn this into a positive and transformative event for Egypt."

But he said the situation may have gone too far to be recovered.

He added that the employment and education needs of citizens of some countries in the region had not always been met, adding to frustration among the young.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia's stock exchange fell by more than 6% on Saturday because of concerns over Egypt.

Anger

Anti-government protesters have taken to the streets in Egypt for a fifth day despite President Mubarak's promise to appoint a new cabinet.

Mr Mubarak said overnight that he had asked the government to resign after he imposed a curfew and ordered troops to back up police as they struggled to control crowds who flooded the streets to demand that he step down.

The Tunisian upheaval began with anger over rising food prices, high unemployment and anger at official corruption - problems which have also left many people Egypt feeling frustrated and resentful of their leadership.

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