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Monday, February 26, 2024

Norway ‘regrets’ drama in Egypt

Norway’s foreign ministry carefully avoided using the word “coup” when addressing the Egyptian military’s decision to seize power Wednesday night, but announced Thursday that it “regrets” the “very serious situation” the country is now in. The Norwegian government called on Egypt’s military to ensure security and stability after the country’s political process failed.

Espen Barth Eide stopped short of calling the military intervention in Egypt a "coup," but said Norway regretted that it seemed necessary to avoid "a bloodbath." PHOTO: Utenriksdepartementet
Espen Barth Eide stopped short of calling the military intervention in Egypt a “coup,” but said Norway regretted that it seemed necessary to avoid “a bloodbath.” PHOTO: Utenriksdepartementet

Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said Norway was sorry that the political process “did not lead to a broadly supported solution for Egypt and that the army finally intervened, removed President Morsi from power and suspended the constitution.” On Thursday, the leader of Egypt’s highest court, Adli Mansour, was sworn in as acting president of Egypt after Mohamed Morsi was removed from power by the military and placed under house arrest.

Eide stressed that Norway had “consistently encouraged President Morsi and the opposition to find solutions … though an inclusive process. We must acknowledge the fact that they have not succeeded.” Mansour later swore to uphold Egypt’s republican system, respect the constitution and protect the nation and its people.

‘Could have turned into a bloodbath’
Asked whether he viewed the military intervention as a coup, Eide told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Thursday that he thinks that “because the situation is so complex, and because it was so dramatic before the army stepped in, it’s most sensible to come back to that after we see what happens in the coming days.

“If the alternative was civil war and a complete breakdown of law and order, it would be something other than if the army has taken over on a long-term basis.”

Eide, who just returned to Norway after several days of meeting government officials and business leaders in Southeast Asia, told NRK there were “many parts” in the conflict that failed. “It’s never a good situation when the army has to set aside an elected government. At the same time, it was a recognition that the situation was not sustainable, and there were things suggesting that this could have turned into a bloodbath between supporters and opponents of Morsi.”

‘Vital’ to form a civilian government
Eide said he’d been in contact with top officials in the US and EU to determine what they could contribute towards getting Egypt back on track towards democracy. “It’s vital that a civilian government is rapidly formed and that the process towards democratic elections is started,” Eide said. “All groups in Egyptian society must be included in the time ahead.”

Norway’s foreign ministry has cautioned against travel to Cairo given the unrest, but has not imposed warnings against travel to Egypt’s tourist areas.

Mansour, meanwhile, hailed Egypt’s military, claiming it “has always been this country’s security.” He also applauded the judicial system and the police, the “free” media and youth who protested against Morsi. “We hail those who show the world that we are strong enough, the brave youth who led this revolution,” Mansour said.

He said he looked forward to carry out the will of the people and hold a new election “as soon as possible. This is the only way to get more democracy and better conditions in Egypt.” He also invited Morsi’s supporters “to be part of building the nation.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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