US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday called for a full transfer of power to elected civilians in Egypt after a court paved the way for the military to assume the parliament’s powers.
Clinton said the United States was still assessing the court decision but called on the ruling military council to ensure that landmark presidential elections just two days away are “peaceful, fair and free.”
“There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people,” Clinton told a joint news conference with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and their counterparts from South Korea.
“In keeping with the commitments that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces made to the Egyptian people, we expect to see a full transfer of power to a democratically elected government,” Clinton said.
Clinton said that Egyptians who waged mass protests last year “made it clear that they want a president, a parliament and a constitutional order that will reflect their will and advance their aspirations for political and economic reform.”
“That is exactly what they deserve to have,” she said.
Clinton also voiced concern about recent decrees by military authorities for the election period, which come just weeks after a decades-old emergency law ended.
“Even if they are temporary, they appear to expand the power of the military to detain civilians and roll back their civil liberties,” Clinton said of the decrees.
Egyptian activists voiced concern that the court effectively was voiding the elected parliament and handing power back to the armed forces, who have controlled Egypt since the overthrow of longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
The United States was a major supporter of Mubarak, who supported peace with Israel. But President Barack Obama’s administration backed calls for Mubarak to step down after protests intensified and has since tried to reach out to all sides in Egypt including the resurgent Muslim Brotherhood.