President Obama said Wednesday the U.S. is “deeply concerned” about the Egyptian military’s overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, and he called on Egypt’s armed forces to return power to civilian authorities rapidly.
“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,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.
Having encouraged democratic uprisings in Egypt in his first term that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, Mr. Obama is now grappling with how to handle the ouster of Mr. Morsi after he served only one year in office.
“The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people,” Mr. Obama said. “Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution.”
Mr. Obama said given the developments in Cairo Wednesday, he had ordered “the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the government of Egypt.”
“During this uncertain period, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, due process, and free and fair trials in civilian courts,” he said. “Moreover, the goal of any political process should be a government that respects the rights of all people, majority and minority; that institutionalizes the checks and balances upon which democracy depends; and that places the interests of the people above party or faction.”
Mr. Obama, who huddled with his national security team throughout the day before finally commenting on the chaos in Cairo, said the U.S. is committed to the rule of law, not to any one political party or individual in Egypt.
“The United States continues to believe firmly that the best foundation for lasting stability in Egypt is a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties —secular and religious, civilian and military,” he said. “The voices of all those who have protested peacefully must be heard – including those who welcomed today’s developments, and those who have supported President Morsi. In the interim, I urge all sides to avoid violence and come together to ensure the lasting restoration of Egypt’s democracy.”
The transition to democracy “must stay true to the will of the people,” Mr. Obama said.
“An honest, capable and representative government is what ordinary Egyptians seek and what they deserve,” he said. “The longstanding partnership between the United States and Egypt is based on shared interests and values, and we will continue to work with the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt’s transition to democracy succeeds.”