On hearing of the arrest yesterday of Ayman Nour, member of the Egyptian parliament and leader of the liberal opposition party al-Ghad ("Tomorrow"), Graham Watson, leader of the European Liberal Democrat Group in the European Parliament called upon President Mubarak and the Egyptian authorities to respect both the letter and the spirit of the EU-Mediterranean Agreement.
"2005 marks the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona process and represents an opportunity for a new stimulus to EU-Mediterranean relations. This kind of politically-motivated arrest of the leader of the only real opposition movement in a country dominated by a single ruling party sends all the wrong signals - that Egypt still has far to go on the road to democracy," he said.
"Political legitimacy derives precisely from a free choice of the electorate from a range of political viewpoints and not from imposing one view on everyone. Approaching the end of his fourth term of office, Mubarak should seize the opportunity of going down in history for supporting constitutional reform and a multi-party democracy. The EU should not stand idly by in the face of blatant disregard for the rule of law in its relations with privileged partner states. If Ayman Nour is not released promptly, collective EU action should be considered. Parliament should address this matter in its next 'urgency debate' on Human Rights on the 24th February if the matter has not been resolved, " Mr. Watson added.