For Immediate Release: February 1, 2013
New York City – Today crisis talks took place between Egypt’s deeply divided political leaders, a move that Human Rights First notes represents a welcome step forward in finding a solution to Egypt’s political turmoil, which has resulted in the death of dozens of people.
The political leaders, including President Morsi, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood backed Freedom and Justice Party and representatives of the major opposition factions agreed to renounce violence and to work towards a negotiated settlement.
Human Rights First urges President Morsi to take bold action to demonstrate his commitment to creating an Egyptian state that respects the rights of all its citizens and to democratic governance under the rule of law. The organization also calls on the Obama Administration to make it clear to President Morsi that it expects President Morsi and his supporters to show their commitment to these essential principles.
President Morsi and the opposition remain far apart on how to move Egypt’s troubled transition towards democracy forwards. President Morsi has insisted that the present cabinet stay in office until new parliamentary elections are held in a few months. The opposition demands the formation of a national unity government, which would include representatives of all political parties, to replace the existing cabinet, whose members have been selected by President Morsi.
More opposition protests are planned for tomorrow, and there is a strong likelihood that there will be more violent clashes between rival political groups and between protesters and the security forces.
President Morsi should immediately form a national unity government and publicly commit to carrying out a review of the new constitution, adopted in December, by an independent group of judges and constitutional experts. President Morsi and the Minister of the Interior must send a clear message that the use of excessive forces by the security forces against unarmed demonstrators will not be tolerated. He should create an independent commission to investigate all acts of political violence committed by the security forces and non-state actors under his presidency.