The head of the United Nations criticized Egypt Friday, as the country's communications networks were facing a government crackdown ahead of large protests planned for later in the day, DPA reported.
"One of the ground principles of democracy is to protect freedom of speech," said UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon, speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
"Freedom of expression should be fully respected," Ban said.
Leaders should listen to their people and violence should be avoided, the UN chief added.
Anti-government protests have been ongoing across major Egyptian cities this week, with calls for democracy and an ousting of the President Hosny Mubarak, who has ruled for nearly 30 years.
Internet and phone networks across the country were down in the hours ahead of the latest planned protests.