President Obama called Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to press him to respond to the violent protests roiling the country and said only a democratic political process would solve the escalating crisis.
The president made the call on his last morning in Tanzania, his final leg on a week-long tour of sub-Sahara Africa. He told Morsi that he was not taking sides, that Washington is committed “to the democratic process in Egypt and does not support any single party or group,” according to a White House read-out of the conversation.
“[Obama] stressed that democracy is about more than elections; it is also about ensuring that the voices of all Egyptians are heard and represented by their government, including the many Egyptians demonstrating throughout the country,” the White House said.
The remarks Obama made directly to Morsi echo his earlier public statements made during a Monday press conference responding to the increasingly violent protests that threaten Morsi’s hold on power one year after he was elected.
“President Obama encouraged President Morsi to take the steps to show that he is responsive to their concerns, and underscored that the current crisis can only be resolved through a political process,” the White House statement said.
The call came after the Egyptian military on Monday warned Morsi it would take action if he failed to address the demands of the people within 48 hours. Egyptians are unhappy about poverty and economic equality issues in the country.
The president also addressed false reports over the weekend that the U.S. was preparing a military deployment to help quell the protests.
“As he has said since the revolution, President Obama reiterated that only Egyptians can make the decisions that will determine their future.”
Obama also repeated his earlier concerns about violence during demonstrations, specifically addressing reports of sexual assaults against women.
“He reiterated his belief that all Egyptians protesting should express themselves peacefully, and urged President Morsi to make clear to his supporters that all forms of violence are unacceptable,” the White House said.
He also expressed his commitment to protect U.S. diplomats and citizens in Egypt and stressed that he is expecting the Egyptian government to continue to ensure the security of U.S. diplomatic personnel and facilities.