South Africa not budging on Morsi’s ‘unconstitutional’ ouster
Despite criticism from Cairo, the South African government is standing by its classification of what recently happened in Egypt as a “military coup.”
By Hassan Isilow – Anadolu Agency
JOHANNESBURG – Despite criticism from Cairo, the South African government is standing by its classification of what recently happened in Egypt as a “military coup.”
“Our position on Egypt is very clear and we do not intend to retract our statement,” Nelson Kgwete, director for media liaison at South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), told the Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
“We also do not wish to respond further on this issue,” he added.
On Tuesday, South Africa reiterated its opposition to the July 3 ouster of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president.
“The South African government wishes to reiterate the view that the unconstitutional removal of the democratically elected president and the suspension of the constitution of Egypt are in breach of the norms and standards adopted by the African Union (AU),” the DIRCO declared in a statement.
It also expressed concern regarding the high number of deaths among pro-Morsi demonstrators.
“Violence against a legitimate protest does not further the cause of democracy or contribute towards healing the differences between the people in a polarized society such as Egypt,” the statement added.
It reiterated support to UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s recent calls to Egyptian authorities to ensure respect for the rule of law and international human rights standards.
“South Africa joins the call by the international community for the unconditional release of President Morsi and all other political prisoners held in detention since the unconstitutional change of government on 3 July,” the DIRCO stated.
“Furthermore,” it added, “the government of South Africa also calls on all parties to refrain from acts of violence and retribution.”
The statement drew an immediate rebuke from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.
“The insistence on describing Egypt’s popular revolution as an unconstitutional change of government, and the continued acknowledgment of the former president’s legitimacy […] is an insult to the will of millions of Egyptians,” read a strongly-worded ministry statement.
It went on to accuse the South African government of disregarding pro-Morsi protesters’ alleged use of weapons against security forces.
Egypt has been in the grip of violence since the powerful army ousted Morsi on July 3 following mass protests.
President Jacob Zuma’s advisor for international relations, Ambassador Lindiwe Zulu, has called on Egypt’s interim leaders to appoint an “all-inclusive” government.
“I would advise the interim leaders to have an all-inclusive political process if peace is to be attained, otherwise it will remain as precarious as it is,” she told the AA.
The same message was conveyed by South Africa’s DIRCO in its Tuesday statement.
“The democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people can only be addressed through an all-inclusive legal process that will bring about a sustainable democratic future,” it said.
It added: “The South African government calls on all relevant parties to engage in an inclusive political process that would lead to constitutional normality.”
Opposition to Morsi’s ouster has not been limited to the South African government.
Over two thousand people gathered outside the parliament building in Cape Town on July 17 to protest the military coup against Morsi.
The protest was organized by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) in a show of solidarity with pro-Morsi demonstrators in Egypt.
Protesters said they were proud of their government’s position on Egypt.
MJC spokesperson Nabeweyah Mallic said the Muslim community in Cape Town was voicing support for democracy in Egypt “in keeping with the values of the father of our nation, Nelson Mandela.”