The White House today strongly condemned the violence in Egypt, calling it a “step in the wrong direction,” and urged the military-backed interim government to “respect the basic universal human rights of their people.”
“The violence that we saw overnight is a step in the wrong direction,” Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Martha’s Vineyard, where President Obama is vacationing with his family. “It is an indication that they’re not currently following through on their promise to transition back to a democratically elected, civilian government, that they’re not committed to an inclusive process.
“We also strongly oppose a return to a state of emergency law and call on the government to respect basic human rights, such as freedom of peaceful assembly and due process under the law,” Earnest added.
“The world is watching what is happening in Cairo,” he said. “We urge the government of Egypt and all parties in Egypt to refrain from violence and resolve their differences peacefully.”
The president was briefed this morning by National Security Adviser Susan Rice on the violence in Cairo and will continue to be updated on a regular basis, Earnest said. The president is spending the afternoon golfing with friends.
The White House determined last month that it does not legally need to declare whether or not the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi on July 3 constituted a coup. By law, the U.S. would be required to cut off the $1.3 billion in annual financial aid to Egypt if it determined that there had been a coup.
“We have determined that it is not in the best interest of the United States to make that determination,” Earnest said. “But, as we’ve also said throughout that process, we are, on a regular basis, reviewing the aid that is provided by the United States to Egypt. And we’ll continue to do that.”
With the clock ticking, Earnest said, the administration “will continue to hold the interim government accountable for the promise that they’ve made to speed the transition to a civilian, democratically elected government.”
“Violence will only make it more difficult to move Egypt forward on path to lasting stability and democracy and runs directly counter to the pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation,” he said. “We’re going to remind them that they made that promise and encourage them to keep it.”