Thursday, March 7, 2013
Egyptian Opposition: U.S. Sec'y Of State John Kerry Is Interfering In Egypt's Internal Affairs
Newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's first visit to Egypt in his present capacity, on March 2-3, 2013, was met with objections from most opposition elements in the country. These elements expressed their displeasure at February 28, 2013 statements by a U.S. State Department spokesman that "the U.S. position is... that we encourage all political parties and individuals with an interest in representing the Egyptian people to participate in [the parliamentary] elections" planned for April 2013. These statements were perceived as a call to the opposition to reverse its decision to boycott the elections. Opposition spokesmen perceived Kerry's visit as an American attempt to pressure the opposition, describing this as unacceptable interference in Egypt's internal affairs and as American backing to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) regime led by President Muhammad Mursi.
Even before Kerry's March 2, 2013 arrival in Cairo, some opposition circles announced that they would greet him with protests, and would pelt him with tomatoes and eggs. The National Association for Change, founded by Mohammad ElBaradei – one of the heads of the National Salvation Front, which is the umbrella organization of the Egyptian opposition – called Kerry a persona non grata in Egypt, and held a demonstration on March 3 outside the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in protest against the American call to the opposition to participate in the elections. During the demonstration, protestors burned a drawing of Kerry with an Islamic-style beard that was captioned "Brother Kerry in Egypt."
Photos from the March 3 demonstration
During his visit, Kerry invited several opposition representatives to a meeting. The National Salvation Front was divided on whether to attend or to boycott the meeting, and eventually the decision was left up to each of the invitees. Al-Wafd Party chairman Al-Sayyid Al-Badawi and Egyptian Popular Current head and former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi boycotted the meeting, while former Arab League secretary-general and former presidential candidate 'Amr Moussa chose to attend.
Cartoon in Qatari Al-Watan: 'Amr Moussa boards Kerry's "elections" balloon, while ElBaradei and Sabahi flee, saying "we are not getting in."
The following are translated excerpts from Egyptian opposition elements' reactions to the Cairo visit by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry:
Egyptian Opposition Heads: U.S. Disrespects The Will Of The Egyptian People
A communiqué by the National Association for Change, which organized the protests over Kerry's visit, stated: "Neither America nor any other country has the right to advise Egypt or interfere with an internal Egyptian matter, whether regarding the elections or the dialogue between the regime and the opposition." Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the organization's general coordinator and one of the heads of the National Salvation Front, said that the Egyptian people would not participate in "false democracy," regardless of internal or external pressure.
The association blamed the U.S. administration that, just as it had once supported the corrupt and tyrannical Mubarak regime, it is now supporting the MB regime that uses the same methods of oppression, arrests, torture and attacks on the freedom of the press and media and the independence of the judiciary. It claimed further that the Obama administration was tied to "war crimes" perpetrated against the youth of the revolution. The association warned against "the consequences of the Egyptian people's rage" if the U.S. continued to support "hangmen and tyrants" at the expense of the people's right to independence, liberty and honor.
Another leader of the National Salvation Front, Dr. Wahid 'Abd Al-Magid, said that the front would not accept any external pressure to change its position on boycotting the elections, saying that the U.S. administration has no right to express any opinion on this since it is an internal matter. Addressing Kerry, he said: "Before you express clear inclinations towards the MB, you must recognize the gravity of the deteriorating political situation in Egypt, which has caused the opposition to withdraw from the elections. If you have any advice, give it to yourselves. It is improper for America, which purports to be democratic, to interfere in and disrespect the will of the people and pressure the opposition to participate in the elections in order to further legitimize the MB regime in a way that serves American interests."
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Posted by Sally Zahav at 2:10 AM