US looks forward to working with Sisi: White House

Published June 5, 2014
Abdelfattah al-Sisi. — File photo
Abdelfattah al-Sisi. — File photo

WASHINGTON: The White House said on Wednesday that the United States looked forward to working with Abdelfattah al-Sisi, the winner of Egypt’s presidential election to “advance our strategic partnership and the many interests shared by the United States and Egypt”.

A statement issued by the White House Press Secretary also said that President Barack Obama planned to speak with President-elect al-Sisi in the coming days.

El-Sisi was appointed the army chief by Egypt’s first democratically elected government, but he toppled President Mohammed Morsi on July 3, 2013, following widespread protests against the Muslim Brotherhood party.

On January 18 this year, the military-backed interim government brought a new constitution, supported by 98.1 per cent of the 38.6pc voters who had participated in referendum.

This week Gen El-Sisi held and won a presidential election with more than 90pc of the votes cast.

“We note that domestic and international observers concluded in their preliminary statements that Egypt’s Presidential Electoral Commission administered the election professionally and in line with Egyptian laws,” the White House said.

“We are pleased that international organisations were allowed to participate as observers, and note that balloting proceeded in a calm and peaceful manner.”

In a policy statement issued last week, President Obama said that strategic interests played a key role in determining Washington’s policy towards Cairo.

“We acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests – from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism. So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government,” he said.

The White House, however, said that it shared concerns raised by observation groups about the restrictive political environment in which this election took place.

“We urge the President-elect and the government to adopt the reforms that are needed to govern with accountability and transparency, ensure justice for every individual, and demonstrate a commitment to the protection of the universal rights of all Egyptians,” the White House said.

“The United States fully supports the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people and we will stand with them as they pursue the future that they deserve,” it added.

As Egypt looks ahead to parliamentary elections later this year, the White House urged the country to consider ways to improve how future elections are held. “True democracy is built on a foundation of rule of law, civil liberties, and open political discourse,” the statement said.

In a separate statement, a working group of American NGOs and human rights advocates agreed with observation that “Egypt’s repressive political environment made a genuinely democratic presidential election impossible.”

In a message sent to President Obama, the group urged him to overhaul his policy towards Egypt “in a manner consistent with your recent pledge to press persistently for reforms while maintaining essential security cooperation”.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2014

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