U.S. ‘cautiously’ welcomes Egypt’s election plan

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The United States on Tuesday said it cautiously welcomed a plan proposed by Egypt's interim rulers to hold presidential and parliamentary elections following the ouster of President Mohammad Mursi.

“We are cautiously encouraged by the announcement by the interim government that it (has) a potential plan for moving forward with a democratic process and elections, both parliamentary and presidential,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday.

The White house has also urged all parties in Egypt, including Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, to take part in dialogue.

“We call on all parties to engage in a dialogue about that process and not to, you know, refuse to participate.”

However, it remains to be seen if the Muslim Brotherhood, who has been calling for protests demanding the recall of Mursi, would agree to participate in the country’s elections.

Last week, Egypt’s army drove Mursi from power and detained him, after millions of protesters took to the streets to demand his ouster, saying his government had failed the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

The military then appointed the head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as interim president.

Mansour’s transition plan would see fresh parliamentary elections in the coming months, with a presidential vote possible by early next year.

Washington has recently showed reluctance over calling the ousting of democratically elected Mursi a military coup.

By law, the U.S. government would be required to halt $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt if the military intervention was labeled a coup.

Despite rising domestic political pressure, the White House says it will take its time on making such a judgment, adding that withdrawing aid to Cairo at this stage would not be in U.S. interests.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama on Tuesday reached out to several key leaders in the region, calling Qatar's new emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahayan.

In both calls, he urged the leaders to use their influence in Egypt to press each side in the political standoff to avoid violence and to hasten the return of a democratic government.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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