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S. Korea applauds resignation of Mubarak

South Korea hailed Saturday the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as a victory for the Egyptian people toward democracy.

Mubarak’s three-decade reign ended earlier Saturday, Korean time, after the besieged ruler decided to comply with protesters’ requests for him to step down. A junta of military commanders will now assume power in a culmination of the 18-day uprising in the most populous Arab nation.

South Korea’s ruling Grand National Party said the resignation was “a win for Egyptian democracy.”

“We hope everyone in Egypt can reach a peaceful and rational conclusion to complete the democratization process,” said Bae Eun-hee, the GNP spokeswoman, in a statement.

Cha Young, spokeswoman for the main opposition Democratic Party, also expressed hope for further development of democracy in Egypt “amid stability and peace.”

“We’d like to pay our condolences to those who lost their lives during the fight,” Cha said. “We’d also like to pay our respect to their grand victory.”

Other minor parties also chimed in, saying they hoped the victory by the people would lead to the founding of a democratic government in Egypt.

The Foreign Ministry in Seoul issued a statement also calling for peace and stability in Egypt.

“We expect the situation in Egypt will lead to fair and free elections, as per the people’s desire,” said Cho Byung-jae, the ministry spokesman. “We respect President Mubarak’s decision to step down. Our government will work closely with the Egyptian government and people to take our friendly cooperative relations with Egypt to another level.”

A Foreign Ministry official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it was “fortunate” that the power transfer in Egypt was taking place peacefully.

“We had been most concerned about a violent, bloody uprising that would have shut down the Suez Canal,” the official said. “The oil price then would have skyrocketed and trade would have been affected. But we expect the situation to settle down following Mubarak’s resignation.”

The official said Egypt should now look to the future beyond Mubarak’s resignation.

“What Egypt does in the aftermath is more important than the resignation itself,” the official added. “The situation must be handled so that impartial and free elections can take place.” 

(Yonhap News)