US Secretary of State John Kerry said the military “were restoring democracy” in Egypt when they ousted elected president Mohamed Morsi. This way the US backed clearly for the first time the move of general El Sisi after mass demonstrations against the toppled president.
Kerry made this remarks in an interview to a Pakistani TV channel GEO. The transcript of the interview is the following:
QUESTION: Thank you very much for giving us time. My first question is about your commitment with democracy. The U.S. believes in democracy, U.S. is a champion of democracy all over the world. But why U.S. is not taking a clear position on military intervention against the democratically elected government of President Morsy in Egypt?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s a very appropriate and important question, and I want to answer it very directly. The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence. And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment so – so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy. And the fact is —
QUESTION: By killing people on the roads?
SECRETARY KERRY: Oh, no. That’s not restoring democracy, and we’re very, very concerned about, very concerned about that. And I’ve had direct conversations with President Mansour, with Vice President ElBaradei, with General al-Sisi, as have other members of our government. And I’ve talked to the Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, so I’ve been in touch with all of the players there. And we have made it clear that that is absolutely unacceptable, it cannot happen.
Now, as you know, these situations can be very confusing and very difficult. We’re working very hard right now with Lady Catherine Ashton, with various officials, with other foreign ministers of other countries, in order to try to see if we can resolve this peacefully. But the story of Egypt is not finished yet, so we have to see how it unfolds in the next days.
Kerry made this remarks in a very sensitive moment, because Morsi supporters are defying the orders of the new authorities to disperse and have called for new rallies and tensions are high. There is fear of renewed violence amid warnings from the interim government that police will disperse them soon. Sit-ins were expected to continue on Friday, extending weeks-long rallies, two days after the interim government authorised police to clear demonstrations “gradually”. “About 33 pro-Morsi marches are due to start after the midday prayer,” said Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, in Cairo. “They will head to rallies at either Nassr City or near Cairo University. This is the third mass march called for so far this week,” Al Jazeera reports.
Last week, after a call by general Abdel Fattah el Sisi for a mass demonstrations on Friday to give him an “order” to “confront” what he called “terrorism”, violence followed with the result of dozens of dead people among the pro-Morsi protesters, shot with live ammunition. From that day the general and the new interior minister warned Morsi supporters to leave the sit-ins and go home but the Muslim Brotherhood and the political party Freedom and Justice called for them to stay.
Those camped out at pro-Morsi rallies are using barricades or sand bags to fortify their rallies in the event of further violence, which has so far seen more than 250 people killed in one month, according to Al Jazeera.
In this context has come the backing from Kerry saying that general El Sisi was “restoring democracy” when, with millions in the streets protesting against the ousted president, he decided to take over, arrest Morsi and form an interim Government (in which he continues as minister of Defense), to write a new constitution and lead the country to a new elections. A delicate moment to back a move that can lead to more violence soon.