Cairo: 'We respect the choices of the Tunisians'
Dina Ezzat, Saturday 15 Jan 2011
A curt statement by the Foreign Ministry acknowledges the transition in Tunis, while the presidency remains silent, indicating possible reservations

An official statement by the Foreign Ministry regarding the developments in Tunisia was issued at 3:00pm (Cairo Local Time), signifying an acceptance of the new political reality in the tumultuous North African nation.

"It was with much attention that Egypt followed the developments of the past weeks and the escalating public demonstrations," said the statement, adding that Egypt "has confidence in the wisdom of its Tunisian brothers to fix the situation and to prevent anarchy from prevailing across Tunis".

The fact that statement was issued by the office of the foreign minister and not by the presidency clearly indicated that Cairo's reaction remains reserved.

This is the fourth Arab reaction to the disposition of Ben Ali to come in the past 24 hours. The first was made late last night by an anonymous Qatari diplomat that expressed "the respect of Qatar to the will of the Tunisian people".

Saudi Arabia, which has offered refuge to Ben Ali, made the second reaction this morning as it announced its willingness to host the deposed Tunisian leader and his family and simultaneously "respect the choices of the Tunisians".

Around noon, the Arab League released a statement that also expressed respect for the will of the Tunisian nation and paid tribute to "Tunisian martyrs".

"Egypt thinks that the most important thing now is for the Tunisians to safeguard the [political] gains they have made following their independence [from the French occupation] and to prevent any negative turn of events."