23rd Oct 2016

EU urges Egypt junta to free ex-president

  • Egyptian protester. Three more people died in clashes on Monday (Photo: Al Jazeera English)

EU countries have urged the Egyptian military to release the country's deposed president for the sake of political stability.

They said in a statement on Monday (22 July) that the junta's "key priorities" should include "the release of all political detainees, including [former president] Mohamed Morsi."

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They also called for "assurance of accountability for past violations."

With the EU having earmarked some €5 billion in economic aid for the country in the coming years, they added that: "The EU fully recognises the serious social and economic challenges that Egypt is facing … the EU will continue to provide support to Egypt to face these challenges."

The bloc's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton told press the same day that judicial accountability for past violence "is different to the situation where people are being detained because of political issues."

She added, after meeting with members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party in Cairo last week, that the situation in Egypt is "difficult and dangerous."

The Egyptian army deposed Morsi in a military coup on 3 July following several days of mass-scale street protests against what his opponents called increasingly authoritarian and Islamist rule.

Several people from both sides of the political divide died in related unrest.

The army also detained some 300 Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the days which followed and shot dead 42 Morsi supporters on 8 July, saying the pro-Morsi group was planning to storm the ex-president's place of detention.

Three more people died in clashes on the streets of the Egyptian capital on Monday, backing up Ashton's statement on the ongoing volatility of the situation.

Commentators fear that if the Muslim Brotherhood is excluded from rule in Egypt, it will radicalise youg Muslims in the region.

"The more extremist Islamists in the Arab world will say: 'We told you so. Democracy does not work. The only way to create an Islamist state is through armed struggle'," Ed Husein, a Middle East scholar in the Washington-based think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in the New York Times on 4 July.

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