US calls for permanent transfer of power in Egypt
Washington: The US on Monday called for a swift and permanent transfer of power to the civilian government in Egypt, asking the country's military leadership to restore popular and international confidence in the democratic transition process.
"We call on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to restore popular and international confidence in the democratic transition process by following through on their stated commitments to an inclusive constitutional drafting process, the timely seating of a democratically elected Parliament and the swift, permanent transfer of power to a civilian government," the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters at her daily news conference.
Expressing concern over the decisions that appear to prolong the military's hold on power, Nuland said there could be no going back on the democratic transition.
"The United States stands with the Egyptian people in their aspiration to choose their own leaders," she said.
"Millions of Egyptians voted this past weekend in an election to choose a new president democratically, reflecting their aspirations for both a president and a government chosen by the Egyptian people that will work for the Egyptian people. This is a critical moment in Egypt, and the world is watching closely," she said.
Earlier in the day, the Pentagon too expressed its concern over the recent military moves.
"We support the Egyptian people and their expectation that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will transfer full power to a democratically elected civilian government, as the SCAF previously announced," the Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, told reporters.
"We have, and will continue, to urge the SCAF to relinquish power to civilian-elected authorities and to respect the universal rights of the Egyptian people and the rule of law," he said adding that the Department of Defense is "deeply concerned" about the new amendments to Egypt's constitutional declaration and the timing of the announcement as polls closed for the presidential election.
"We believe Egypt's transition must continue and that Egypt is made stronger and more stable by a successful transition to democracy. Egypt has an enduring role as a security partner and leader in promoting regional stability, and we look forward to working with the new government on a host of issues," he said.
Both Pentagon and the State Department officials said that they are monitoring the situation in Egypt.
"We want that to continue,....(and) we're going to monitor events closely. It's very important to the entire US government, and the US military, that the SCAF take steps to promote a peaceful transition to democracy and a government in Egypt that is responsive to the Egyptian people," he said.
"The concern is that this situation is extremely murky now. Even many Egyptians don't understand it. We have a presidential election, we will have a president seated, but it is not clear how and on what timeline we're going to get to a parliament and on what timeline we're going to get to a constitution," Nuland said.
"And those things need to be settled so that the SCAF can turn over power not only in a presidential sense but also in a legislative sense, et cetera," Nuland told reporters.
"This is an evolving situation that we are watching closely. That said, the decisions that are taken in this crucial period are naturally going to have an impact on the nature of our engagement with the government and with the SCAF moving forward," Nuland added.
"So this is why we are laying down these clear markers now, that the SCAF has made a commitment to allow a transfer of democratic power and we want to see them meet those commitments," she said.