Violent crackdown on pro-democracy protestors must stop: Ban

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Betwa Sharma

United Nations, Feb 17 (PTI) UN chief Ban Ki-moontoday slammed the use of violence to suppress anti-governmentprotests in Middle East, saying the Arab leaders shouldinstead "learn lessons and deliver bold reforms."

"I will say it once again: the situation calls forbold reforms, not repression," Ban told reporters.

On a violent police raid on pro-democracy protestorsin Bahrain, he said, "The reports from Bahrain overnight aredeeply troubling. Here as elsewhere, violence should not beused against peaceful demonstrators and against journalists."

"It must stop," he added, calling on those responsibleto be brought to justice.

He said the protests had been sparked by people''sfrustrations at the lack of jobs and the lack of freedom ofexpression, assembly and communication and not being able toparticipate in their country''s political process.

"We have seen the wide (spread) demonstrations,outbursts of demonstrations and voices are now on the streets.

That means they have been frustrated enough by the lack offreedom, lack of opportunities.

"That is the lesson, which the leaders should learnand try to change, as soon as possible, reflecting such strongvoices from their own people," he said.

On Egypt where anti-regime protests toppled longtimePresident Hosni Mubarak, Ban said that there must be atransition from the present military leadership to thedemocratic civilian rule following free and fair elections.

"Those commitments must be fulfilled. There must be noturning back," he said.

In the days ahead, Ban said he would be "reaching out"to leaders to reiterate the message that they should "listenattentively to the people and to respond to their legitimateaspirations." PTI BS

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