World reacts to removal from power of Egyptian president

Reaction varies from ‘concern’ to ‘satisfaction’

Thu, Jul 4, 2013, 14:35

The European Union said today it had no plans to reconsider its aid programmes to Egypt after the army ousted president Mohamed Morsi, but EU sources said the aid hinged on its progress in moving towards democracy.

Egypt’s military removed Mr Morsi yesterday after mass protests against his one-year rule. The head of Egypt’s Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, was sworn in today as the interim head of state.

“I am not aware of any urgent plans to rethink our aid programmes at the moment but... the dust is still settling on what happened last night,” Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told reporters.

Earlier this year, the EU offered a maximum of €5 billion in grants and loans to Egypt over a two-year period, but the money is tied to progress on reforms and a democratic transition.

Mr Mann avoided repeated questions on whether the EU considered what had happened in Egypt to be a military coup.

“The most important thing is that all parties in Egypt stay calm, begin a dialogue and above all else return to the democratic process as soon as possible,” he said.

World leaders reacted with concern, calling for restraint and a peaceful transition while some expressed disappointment in his leadership.

“We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces, ” president Barack Obama said in a statement in Washington. “I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of president Morsi and his supporters.”

The UK “does not support military intervention as a way to resolve disputes in a democratic system,” British foreign secretary William Hague said in statement.

“We call on all parties to show the leadership and vision needed to restore and renew Egypt’s democratic transition.”

Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd told reporters in Canberra that “the expectation of the international community” was to see a “return to full democratic government in Egypt as rapidly as possible.”

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said Mr Morsi’s removal was “a severe setback for democracy.”

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said Mr Morsi’s removal from power by the military was a test for world leaders.

“Are you going to stick with democracy and support it or are you going to back and legitimise a military coup that just ousted the first ever democratically elected president of Egypt,” he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the army’s overthrow of Mr Morsi was a “military coup”, and “unacceptable”.

“The removal of president Mohamed Morsi, who came to power through a democratic election, by the intervention of the Egyptian army is an extremely worrying situation,” Mr Davutoglu told reporters in Istanbul.

“Leaders who come to power with open and transparent elections reflecting the will of the people can only be removed by elections, that is, the will of the nation,” he said.

“It is unacceptable for a government that has come to power through democratic elections to be toppled through illicit means and, even more, a military coup.”

The response by Turkey’s government, which like Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has Islamist roots, appeared to be the strongest foreign reaction so far to Mursi’s overthrow.

The United Nations, the United States and other powers have stopped short of denouncing the move as a military coup; to do so might trigger automatic sanctions.

Deputy prime minister Bekir Bozdag said the coup had destroyed Egypt’s fledgling democracy and national will, and hit out at the responses from Western capitals.

“There are no opposing statements from the West ... which always advocates democracy, national will, human honour and freedoms. Where is the sincerity?” Mr Bozdag tweeted.

The party of Tunisia’s president condemned the move as a blow to democracy, in the first public reaction to events in Cairo from the cradle of the ‘Arab Spring’ movement.

“The party condemns the military coup against the democratic process,” said Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki’s secularist party, the Congress for the Republic, in a statement.

“We view what the leadership of the army has done as a setback on the path of the Egyptian revolution and an attempt to reinstall the old regime,” it said.

The divide between secularists and Islamists in Tunisia has widened since the removal of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali more than two years ago triggered a wave of uprisings around the Arab world including Egypt.

But although the role of Islam has grown in Tunisian society since then and has been enshrined in a new constitution, the divisions are seen as less severe than in Egypt.

“A military coup sends a dangerous message to the Arab peoples, it hampers the democratic transition and sows despair among the peoples of the region,” Mr Marzouki’s party said.

Qatar said it supports the will of the Egyptian people and views Egypt as a leader in the Arab and Islamic world, al Jazeera television reported, quoting a foreign ministry source in the first Qatari reaction to the removal of president Mohamed Morsi, an ally of the Gulf state.

“Qatar will continue to respect the will of Egypt and its people across the spectrum,” al Jazeera quoted that source as saying.

In the Middle East, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, who is battling a two-year civil war that’s killed more than 93,000 people, said Egypt’s crisis marks the fall of “political Islam,” the Syrian news agency reported, citing remarks to Al- Thawra newspaper.

The United Arab Emirates expressed “satisfaction” with events in Egypt. Foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said in a statement that the Egyptian army is a “strong shield and protector,” according to the state-run news agency WAM. The UAE. has cracked down on Islamist groups, which the government says have been emboldened by popular uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said the lender and the International Monetary Fund have been standing by to provide financial support to Egypt. “We’ve been waiting for reforms that still had to happen in order for the IMF first and then us to follow and make the investments, and it hasn’t happened,” Kim told reporters in Lima, Peru.


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