WASHINGTON, Nov 27, 2012 (AFP)
WASHINGTON, Nov 27, 2012 (AFP)
The United States is closely following the drama unfolding in Egypt and seeking clarity as thousands protested in Cairo against a power grab by President Mohamed Morsi, US officials said Tuesday.
The situation was evolving, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, appearing to downplay fears that Islamist Morsi, elected after long-time leader Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011, was morphing into an autocrat.
“The situation remains unclear,” she told journalists, adding “we are continuing to consult with various parties to understand how they appreciate the situation.”
Washington wanted however to see an end to “the constitutional impasse… which protects a positive, democratic trajectory for this constitution, protects balances of power, protects a voice for all Egyptians.”
Egyptian protesters are angry at a decree unveiled by Morsi last week allowing him to “issue any decision or law that is final and not subject to appeal.”
The decree put him on a collision course with the judiciary and consolidated the long-divided opposition which accuses him of taking on dictatorial powers. It also raises concerns that the Islamists will be further ensconced in power.
It has also placed Washington in a quandary as it seeks to take the measure of the new leader, only days after praising him for brokering a ceasefire in a bitter brief war between Israel and Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip.
But Nuland highlighted that Morsi had held talks with the judiciary and other Egyptian leaders since issuing his decree.
“I think we don’t yet know what the outcome of those are going to be. But that’s a far cry from an autocrat just saying, my way or the highway.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney added the “current constitutional impasse is an internal Egyptian situation that can only be resolved by the Egyptian people, through peaceful democratic dialogue.”
On Sunday, Morsi stressed his decree was temporary until a new post-Mubarak constitution is adopted and elections can be held.
Egypt was working through a very “murky legal period,” Nuland said, calling for “national unity around a way forward. There needs to be conversation with all of the folks who have a stake in the way this goes forward.”
She hinted that if Egypt appeared to be veering off the democratic course, some of the vast amounts of international aid to the country could be at stake.
“We want to see Egypt continuing on a reform path to ensure that any money forthcoming from the IMF truly supports a stabilization and a revitalization of a dynamic economy based on market principles,” Nuland said.
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday said Egypt can still get its $4.8 billion loan agreed last week despite fresh political turmoil as long as there is “no major change” in its reform commitments.
“The staff-level agreement on financial support from the IMF is based on the economic and social policies that the government plans to implement under its program,” IMF spokeswoman Wafa Amr said in a statement.