U.S. Should Reaffirm its Support for Egypt’s Peaceful Democratic Transition in the Face of Political Instability in Egypt
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First welcomes the apparent agreement reached by President Mohamed Morsi and Egypt’s senior judges today to scale back the scope of controversial decree that would have given the President wide-ranging, unchallengeable powers. The political crisis in Egypt, heightened by President Mohamed Morsi’s decree, has raised the stakes for U.S. policy in one of America’s most important allies in the region. Morsi’s unilateral decree precipitated a polarized stand-off between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the religious movement that backed Morsi’s campaign for the presidency, and opponents to greater religious influence over Egypt’s government. Rival street protests were called for Tuesday November 27, but following news of the agreement between the President and judges the Muslim Brotherhood has apparently called off its planned protest. This would be a welcome de-escalation of the crisis. Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks observes, “The U.S. government has a strong interest in a peaceful transition to democracy in Egypt, but despite today’s progress, the widening distrust between competing political factions still endangers the process. U.S. policy makers should reiterate their support for the drafting of a new constitution that bolsters the rule of law and protects the rights and freedoms of all Egyptians, in accordance with Egypt’s international human rights obligations.” Hicks notes that the United States should use all its channels of influence with Egypt’s leaders to advance the transition process so that Egyptians can adopt their new constitution and elect a new parliament as soon as possible. He adds that U.S. policy makers should encourage President Morsi and opposition leaders to channel their disagreements through political negotiations rather than through street protests that are likely to result in more violence and continuing conflict and instability. “Adopting a new constitution and electing a parliament are essential next steps that would strengthen and legitimize the state institutions that Egypt will need to meet the many challenges of the transitional period,” concluded Hicks.