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Diplomat says Egypt wants to ‘reassure’ world

July 15, 2013

GENEVA (AP) — Egypt wants to reassure the world that the military’s removal of the country’s first democratically elected president helps — not hinders — its transition to democracy, a top Egyptian diplomat said Monday.

Egypt’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva, Wafaa Bassim, summoned reporters to her country’s U.N. mission to spread the message that the “second revolution” on July 3 was justified by ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s failure to listen to the Egyptian people. Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that rapidly ascended to power after the 2011 Egyptian revolution that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

“What we are trying to do is send a message of reassurance,” Bassim said.

The Egyptian ambassador is a career diplomat who took on the U.N. post a little over two months into Morsi’s presidency. She called herself a representative of the people, answerable to the foreign ministry, who now speaks for the interim officials installed by the military. She said the military’s toppling of Morsi was “legitimate” despite his presidential election win on June 30, 2012.

Bassim emphasized in particular that the military had installed only a transitional government, and only to end the popular unrest, contrary to Morsi supporters’ claims that the generals staged a coup to try to undercut the growing influence of Islamists.

“Confrontation was growing every day, and the fragmentation also was growing every day,” she said. “The dissatisfaction in all circles and all levels was mounting. ... We want to spare the country more fragmentation and end violence.”

But violence since Morsi’s removal peaked a week ago when the military opened fire on Muslim Brotherhood supporters, killing more than 50 protesters and wounding hundreds more. The Brotherhood called for huge protests Monday to add to the pressure on the military, which ousted Morsi after four days of protests by millions of his opponents.

Bassim said the military-backed government’s transition plan should take no more than “eight to nine months” to complete.

“They are totally apolitical, not interfering in whatever process is taking place. They are just there to protect the country,” she said of the military’s role.

Update hourly