AFRICANGLOBE – With massive protests in Egypt reportedly sparking violent clashes across the country, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the security forces to protect the protesters and called on the Egyptian people to demonstrate “exclusively by peaceful means.”
“The Secretary-General is following with growing concern the latest developments in the unfolding crisis in Egypt, said a statement issued by his spokesperson, which adds that at such a critical juncture, all Egyptians must work together for peaceful restoration of constitutional order. “There is no place for retribution or for the exclusion of any major party or community.”
The UN chief expressed his concern as news media reports cite mounting tensions and violent clashes and mass arrests across Egypt. On Wednesday, the Egyptian military, which had earlier in the week given the opposing parties 48 hours to resolve their differences, deposed President Mohamed Morsi, suspended the Constitution and paved they way for an interim Government.
“While some of those arrested have now been released, others are still being detained. There are also worrying reports about failure to apply due process and restrictions on freedom of expression and the press,” Mr. Ban says in the statement.
“Alarmingly, violent clashes between protesters have erupted. There are reports that some have been killed or wounded by security forces. There are horrifying reports of sexual violence,” the statement continues, adding: “The Secretary-General calls on the Egyptian security forces to protect demonstrators and prevent violent clashes.”
Mr. Ban also called on the people of Egypt to exercise their right to demonstrate exclusively by peaceful means.
“The Secretary-General believes strongly that this is a critical juncture in which it is imperative for Egyptians to work together to chart a peaceful return to civilian control, constitutional order, and democratic governance,” said the statement, which stressed that Egypt’s political leaders have a responsibility to signal, by their words and their actions, “their commitment to a peaceful and democratic dialogue which includes all of Egypt’s constituencies, including women.”
“The way forward should be determined by the people of Egypt themselves, in a manner that respects the full diversity of Egyptian political views,” Mr. Ban’s statement said, adding that he remains confident that the Egyptian people will be able to successfully address the challenges the country currently faces.
“He commits to fostering an ongoing strong partnership with Egypt to support a peaceful transition to a representative and democratic governance.”
African Union Suspends Egypt
The African Union announced Friday that Egypt’s membership has been suspended due to the military action in Cairo that deposed President Mohamed Morsi and suspended the nation’s constitution.
The secretary of the African Union Peace and Security Council, Admore Kambudzi, says Egypt is barred from participating in any AU activity.
“The overthrow of the democratic elected president does not conform to the relevant provisions of the Egyptian constitution and is therefore false under the definition of an unconstitutional change of government. The council decides to suspend the participation of Egypt in AU activities until the restoration of constitutional order.” Kambudzi said.
The military toppled the Morsi government and declared the constitution suspended on Wednesday, saying the president had failed to meet demands of the Egyptian people. Egypt’s top judge was sworn in as the country’sw temporary leader on Thursday.
Egypt’s ambassador to the African Union, Mohamed Edrees, defended the military’s actions. He told the AU Peace and Security Council Friday there has not been a military coup.
“The military role in this is to support the people. The military did not instigate a coup or impose its own agenda against the will of the Egyptian people, on the contrary. The military supported the agenda of the people [and] the roadmap which was endorsed by the whole broad spectrum of the Egyptian society.” Edrees said.
The African Union says it is planning to send a high-level delegation to Egypt to consult with the ruling authorities and others.
The African Union currently has three other member states on suspended status, all as a result of what are considered actions contrary to their national constitutions: Madagascar, Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau.
By: Mathew Van Der Wolf