Officials Express Concern Over Egyptian Transition

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2012 — Mil­lions of Egypt­ian peo­ple vot­ed to elect a new pres­i­dent demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly, but the Egypt­ian military’s last-minute amend­ments to the country’s con­sti­tu­tion con­cern the Defense Depart­ment, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said here today.

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“We sup­port the Egypt­ian peo­ple and their expec­ta­tion that the Supreme Coun­cil of the Armed Forces will trans­fer full pow­er to a demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly elect­ed civil­ian gov­ern­ment, as the SCAF pre­vi­ous­ly announced,” Lit­tle said in a state­ment released to reporters. 

“We have, and will con­tin­ue, to urge the SCAF to relin­quish pow­er to civil­ian-elect­ed author­i­ties and to respect the uni­ver­sal rights of the Egypt­ian peo­ple and the rule of law,” he added. 

Lit­tle said the Defense Depart­ment is “deeply con­cerned” about the new amend­ments to Egypt’s con­sti­tu­tion­al dec­la­ra­tion and the tim­ing of the announce­ment as polls closed for the pres­i­den­tial election. 

“We believe Egypt’s tran­si­tion must con­tin­ue and that Egypt is made stronger and more sta­ble by a suc­cess­ful tran­si­tion to democ­ra­cy,” he said. “Egypt has an endur­ing role as a secu­ri­ty part­ner and leader in pro­mot­ing region­al sta­bil­i­ty, and we look for­ward to work­ing with the new gov­ern­ment on a host of issues.” 

Meet­ing today with reporters along with Pen­ta­gon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kir­by, the press sec­re­tary said Defense Depart­ment offi­cials remain in close con­tact with the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary on the mat­ter, not­ing that Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta spoke June 15 with Field Mar­shal Mohamed Hus­sein Tanta­wi, leader of Egypt’s rul­ing coun­cil. “We plan to con­tin­ue to main­tain those close con­tacts and coop­er­a­tion with the SCAF,” Lit­tle said. “That being said, we need to see where things go.” 

Lit­tle said the U.S. and Egypt have main­tained a very strong mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship for many years. 

“We want that to con­tin­ue, … [and] we’re going to mon­i­tor events close­ly,” he said. “It’s very impor­tant to the entire U.S. gov­ern­ment, and the U.S. mil­i­tary, that the SCAF take steps to pro­mote a peace­ful tran­si­tion to democ­ra­cy and a gov­ern­ment in Egypt that is respon­sive to the Egypt­ian people.” 

Lit­tle said the Unit­ed States has been clear about its posi­tion on Egypt’s tran­si­tion to a demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly elect­ed gov­ern­ment and that he believes the SCAF is ful­ly aware of these concerns. 

“We believe they’ve tak­en those con­cerns onboard, and there’s time for all of this to be sort­ed out … in the right way,” he said. 

Kir­by said the Defense Depart­ment has enjoyed a strong mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship and coop­er­a­tion with the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary for more than three decades and still believes in main­tain­ing that connection. 

“Speak­ing from a pure­ly mil­i­tary per­spec­tive, that rela­tion­ship con­tin­ues,” he said. “It’s been important.” 

Kir­by said that while Egypt has been going through “a year of momen­tous change” that has altered the two nations’ exer­cise reg­i­men, the core of the rela­tion­ship still remains. 

“We’ve expressed our con­cerns about some of these recent deci­sions,” Kir­by said. “Our hope, and our expec­ta­tion, is that they will facil­i­tate a smooth, demo­c­ra­t­ic tran­si­tion in accor­dance with the con­sti­tu­tion of their coun­try. It’s now up to the Supreme Coun­cil of the Armed Forces to do the things that the Egypt­ian peo­ple expect it to do,” he added. 

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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