Clegg courts Egypt with aid package

By Ruth McKee

The UK is to give over £5 million in grants and aid to Egypt in a bid to help the Middle Eastern country rebuild after the turbulence of the Arab Spring.

The package of support for Egypt includes a £5 million donation to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and over £0.5 million to ensure balanced media coverage and an international presence in the upcoming elections.

The raft of measures will be announced by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg on his visit to the country today, where he is expected to address a number of young political activists who were involved in the popular uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.

Praising the spirit behind the revolution, Mr Clegg will tell the activists: "Your revolution was a triumph for peaceful protest. Not only have you changed the course of history for this great nation, but your successes have given heart to young men and women fighting for freedom and justice across North Africa and the Middle East, and across the world.

"You have landed a major victory for democracy and human rights. You have given dictators everywhere reason to fear."

Recently concern has grown amongst western powers over the power vacuum left behind after Mubarak was overthrown and observers were shocked by the recent outbreaks of violence against Egypt's Christian sects.

Addressing these concerns, Mr Clegg will tell the activists: "We want to see a clear and credible timetable for transition, along with a lifting of the harsh and outdated Emergency Law.

"Security must be restored to the streets. And Egyptians deserve clear guarantees on human rights including women’s rights. Citizens of all backgrounds and faiths must be assured of their place in Egypt’s future, and all minorities must be given proper protections under the law."

The aid package Mr Clegg will be promoting is aimed at tackling unemployment amongst Egypt's youth, with specific help promised for the country's higher education sector and support for apprenticeships.