SA condemns violence in Egypt

15 August 2013

South Africa has joined the international community in condemning the violence used by the Egyptian security forces to disperse pro-democracy demonstrators this week.

Well over 300 people were killed and more than 3 000 others injured across Egypt on Wednesday in clashes between supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the security troops, after the latter dispersed two pro-Morsi sit-ins.

Egypt’s Health Ministry said 43 policemen were also killed. But it remains difficult to dig out the real number of deaths and injuries due to conflicting sources as well as continuing clashes across the country.

The Egyptian security forces started the evacuation operation at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo’s Nasr City and Nahda Square in Giza. The pro-Morsi protesters had been sitting-in there for some 45 days.

After the deadly clashes, the Egyptian interim presidency announced a nationwide state of emergency for one month, while the cabinet imposed a curfew on turmoil governorates including Cairo, Giza and Alexandria.

On Thursday, Pretoria urged all parties in Egypt to exercise restraint and resolve their differences through dialogue, adding that the loss of life diminished the democratic aspirations expressed by millions of Egyptian voters last year.

The South African government called on the interim authority “to end the bloody actions against its own people, and to conduct a credible and transparent judicial investigation against those who committed the massacres since 30 June 2013,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement on Thursday.

It also called for the unconditional release all political detainees, and for the launch of “a genuine and comprehensive transition process so as to allow for the return to constitutional normalcy and democratic legitimacy”.

Pretoria reiterated the importance of national reconciliation as paving the way for peace and stability in Egypt, saying that South Africa remained ready to share its own experiences and lessons in this regard.

“An Egyptian-led, all-inclusive negotiated process remains the only option for Egypt to get out of the present impasse,” the department said.

On Thursday, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane discussed the situation in Egypt with her counterparts in the region on the sidelines of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit currently under way in Malawi.

The department said they had agreed that peace and stability in Egypt was crucial to the North African region and the African continent as a whole.