U.S. Should Support Democratic Process in Egypt | Freedom House

U.S. Should Support Democratic Process in Egypt

Washington

The Egyptian military’s July 3 coup, which deposed elected President Mohamed Morsi, requires a suspension of U.S. aid to Egypt, Freedom House said today.
 
Under the Foreign Assistance Act, no aid, except for democracy promotion, can go to “any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by a military coup d’etat” or a coup “supported by the military.” The law has no provision for a presidential waiver, and aid can only be resumed after “a democratically elected government has taken office.” The Foreign Assistance Act also requires the Secretary of State to certify that the government of Egypt “is implementing policies to protect the rights of journalists, due process, and freedoms of expression and association,” although he may waive these conditions.
 
“Morsi was duly elected, but he ruled undemocratically, usurping extraordinary powers in his hands and ramming through a new constitution. With the dissolution of the lower house of parliament and clashes between Morsi and the judiciary, there were no effective institutional checks against his power grabs,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. “That said, no one likes to see any military remove a duly elected president from power. The Egyptian military’s record does not bode well for democracy, and the initial steps of Egypt’s interim government don’t inspire confidence. Egyptians must use these developments to renew their country’s democratic transition.”
 
President Morsi last November expanded his power significantly beyond that of his predecessors, including Hosni Mubarak, and the following month he rammed a new constitution through a flawed and controversial process. Massive discontent with Morsi reflects his failure to compromise with the opposition and the continuation of widespread human rights violations, including charges against journalists for “insulting the president,” closure of civil society organizations and prison sentences for their employees following a politically motivated trial, and impunity for security officials involved in the death of protestors.
 
After the interim government led by Adly Mansour took power in Egypt, Morsi and his top aides were placed under house arrest and arrest warrants were issued for Mohammed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood’s “supreme guide,” and his deputy Khairat al-Shater. Authorities have shut down three Islamist-run television stations and raided the offices of Al Jazeera’s Egyptian news channel, detaining at least five of its staff.
 
"A suspension of aid is required by U.S. law, but it would also serve the purpose of exercising leverage that the U.S. has been far to hesitant to use until now,” said Daniel Calingaert, executive vice president of Freedom House. “We need to push Egypt’s interim government to set a date for presidential and parliamentary elections, respect the fundamental rights of all Egyptians, and bring all major political currents, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, into discussions about the country’s way forward. We look to Egypt to establish a fully democratic government, including constitutional checks on executive authority.”

Egypt is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom House’s annual global survey of political rights and civil liberties, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2013 and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2012.
 
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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