, BERLIN, Feb 4 – The United Nations secretary general called on Friday for a "peaceful and orderly" transition process in Egypt, stressing that protests against President Hosni Mubarak must be conducted without violence.
"I sincerely hope that the protest today will go without violence. We have seen too much violence and bloodshed," Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Berlin following a meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
He added: "It\’s time to begin a process of peaceful and orderly transition leading to free and fair elections. The UN is ready to assist."
He said the transition process should start "as soon as possible … the sooner the better."
For his part, Westerwelle said that democratic change should take place right away and that authorities should enter into dialogue with the opposition.
However, he added: "We must proceed with caution."
"It\’s a matter for the Egyptian people who will govern Egypt," said the minister.
Earlier Berlin said it had summoned the Egyptian ambassador over the violent crackdown on demonstrators and insisted that protests occur peacefully and that attacks on foreigners and journalists must end.
As the two diplomats were speaking, tens of thousands of people were massing again in Cairo\’s central Tahrir Square to demand Mubarak step down.