US, Britain ‘concerned’ over Morsi’s ouster

Agence France-Presse
(UPDATED) The US also orders most its personnel to evacuate its embassy in Cairo

CONCERNED. US President Barack Obama in a file photo. White House video frame grab

WASHINGTON, DC, USA (UPDATED) – US President Barack Obama on Thursday, July 4 (Manila time) said he was “deeply concerned” over the ouster of Egypt president Mohamed Morsi

Obama also urged a quick return to elected civilian government, saying his government will review the legal implications for US aid to Egypt.

The United States on Thursday ordered most of its personnel to evacuate its embassy in Cairo leaving just a skeleton staff behind, only hours after the Egyptian military ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

Amid fast-moving events in Egypt, a travel advisory confirmed that “the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency US government personnel and family members from Egypt due to the ongoing political and social unrest.”

Britain urged for calm and spoke out against the use of military intervention in bringing about regime change, but stopped short of calling it a coup.

“The situation is clearly dangerous and we call on all sides to show restraint and avoid violence,” said Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Four Morsi supporters were killed in clashes with the army and police in the western city of Marsa Matruh, a security official told AFP.

Another 10 people were injured after the group of armed supporters stormed the city’s security headquarters, the official said.

In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called for a swift return to democracy in Egypt.

“I am following closely developments in Egypt and am fully aware of the deep divisions in society, popular demands for political change and efforts at brokering a compromise,” she said in a statement. “I urge all sides to rapidly return to the democratic process, including the holding of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections and the approval of a constitution,” she added.

She expressed hope that the new, transitional administration would be fully inclusive.

US embassy is target

The US embassy in Egypt has occasionally been targeted by demonstrators and as protests swelled in Cairo it had already been closed on Tuesday and Wednesday as a precaution.

Due to the July 4 Independence Day holiday and the Arab world weekend, it was not due to reopen until Sunday at the earliest.

The advisory warned that “political unrest … is likely to worsen in the near future.”

The State Department advised all Americans “to defer travel to Egypt and US citizens living in Egypt to depart at this time because of the continuing political and social unrest.”

An American was killed on Friday in the northern port of Alexandria during a demonstration and “Westerners and US citizens have occasionally been caught in the middle of clashes and demonstrations,” the advisory warned.

It said that demonstrations had often “degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters, and between protesters supporting different factions, resulting in deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage.”

Molotov cocktails and rocks as well as tear gas and other crowd control measures were often used at demonstrations, it warned.

However the notice stressed that there were currently no plans for special charter flights or US-sponsored airlifts to evacuate Americans from the country.

“If you wish to depart Egypt, you should make plans and depart as soon as possible. The airport is open and commercial flights are still operating, although cancellations may occur.”

The US also warned women in particular about rising sexual violence in the country, saying they have often been the targets of sexual assault. – Rappler.com

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