ADDIS ABABA, January 29, 2011 (AFP) – The African Union said Saturday it was “concerned” by the political unrest in Egypt which has claimed at least 48 lives in five days. “Egypt is going through a situation which we need to observe. It is a worrying situation,” the AU Commission chief Jean Ping told reporters at the bloc’s headquarters in Addis Ababa. “After what happened in Tunisia, we are observing the events elsewhere and we are concerned,” he added. Protests erupted Tuesday in Egypt to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who responded by sacking the government and promising a new cabinet after riots intensified Friday. The AU commission chief made the comments on the eve of the pan-African body’s two-day summit which expected to be dominated by the latest upheavals in the continent, including Tunisia and Ivory Coast.
Ping explained that Tunisia had been discussed in pre-summit meetings, adding the the uprising had taken everybody by surprise. The bloc had so far not reacted to the crisis in Tunisia. “We had not predicted or foreseen this. I think nobody, even those who had all means of prediction and information, could not have foreseen this,” he said. Ping voiced hope that the Tunisian crisis will “be a very short one and lead to free and fair elections,” and that all action taken will be “in accordance with the principles of the African Union.” Tunisia will be represented at the summit by the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Radhouane Nouisser, while Egypt’s Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the foreign minister in the outgoing government, will be at the gathering.
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