UN calls for 'maximum restraint' in Egypt
16 August 2013, 15:18
New York - The UN Security Council called on the Egyptian
government and the Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday to exercise "maximum
restraint" and end the violence spreading across the country.
Council members also called for national reconciliation and
expressed regret at the loss of life.
Argentine Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval, the council
president, expressed the views of the council members after an emergency
meeting. It was not a formal statement and represented the lowest-level
response by the UN's most powerful body — a reflection of the serious
differences among the 15 council members on how to respond to the escalating
crisis in Egypt.
Perceval spoke to reporters after the council was briefed by
Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on the turmoil in Egypt, sparked by the
government's deadly crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
"Members first of all expressed their sympathy to the
victims and regretted the loss of life. The view of council members is that
it's important to end violence in Egypt, that the parties exercise maximum
restraint. And there was a common desire on the need to stop violence and to
advance national reconciliation," Perceval said.
Russia and China traditionally oppose Security Council
involvement in the domestic affairs of a country, partly because of sensitivity
over internal disputes in their own countries, including in Chechnya and Tibet.
Diplomats said several council members pressed for adoption
of a press statement that condemned the violence but China was opposed. In the
end even softer language deploring the violence was dropped, the diplomats
said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the consultations were
Britain, France and Australia had jointly requested the
council meeting. Britain's deputy ambassador Philip Parham said the council
needed "to be informed about a situation that is obviously of serious
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier
accused the West of ignoring the violence and called on the Security Council to
meet urgently to discuss the situation.
At least 638 people were confirmed killed and nearly 4 000
wounded in the violence sparked when riot police backed by armoured vehicles,
snipers and bulldozers smashed two sit-ins in Cairo where Morsi's supporters
had been camped out for six weeks to demand his reinstatement. It was the
deadliest day by far since the 2011 popular uprising that overthrew autocratic
ruler Hosni Mubarak and plunged the country into more than two years of
Eliasson told reporters as he left the meeting that his
briefing "built" on the statement that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
made on Wednesday.
The UN chief condemned "in the strongest terms"
the violence used by Egyptian security forces to clear demonstrators supporting
Morsi and expressed regret that the authorities chose to used force instead of
listening to his earlier plea to prevent further loss of life. Ban also urged
all Egyptians to concentrate of promoting reconciliation.
Diplomats said Eliasson called the situation in Egypt
Perceval reiterated Argentina's condemnation of "the
coup d'etat" against Morsi and Wednesday's "brutal repression against
popular demonstrations that filled the streets of the main cities of
Egypt." Argentina urged authorities to "totally and immediately cease
the spiral of violence loosed in recent days against unarmed citizens."