Friction as Egypt seeks readmission to African Union

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MIDEASTADDIS ABABA, July 22;Muna Omer, Special Envoy of the interim Egyptian President, said Egypt “regretted” the African Union’s decision to suspend the troubled North African nation and hoped the decision would be reversed in “the next few weeks.”

Ms. Omer made her remarks on a visit to Addis Ababa to brief the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on events that have followed the recent domestic upheaval following the military’s removal of elected President Mohammed Mursi and the installation of an interim government in his place.

On July 5, the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) suspended Egypt “until the restoration of constitutional order”, noting that “the overthrow of the democratically elected President… falls under the definition of an unconstitutional change of Government”.

“The decision of the AUPSC … was based on a kind of misunderstanding of the real situation in Egypt,” Ms. Omer said, “The revolution that took place in Egypt was a popular uprising, not an unconstitutional change.”

The AUPSC has appointed a high-level panel, comprising the former Malian President Alpha Oumar, the former President of Botswana, Gontebanye Mogae, and Dieleita Mohamed Dileita, former Prime Minister of Djibouti, to meet a broad spectrum of Egyptian politicians, the ruling authorities and “other Egyptian stakeholders”. The panel’s mandate, as described in a July 8 press release, is to “establish a constructive political dialogue aimed at national reconciliation, as well as to contribute their efforts” towards a democratic transition.

The Egyptian authorities appear to prefer a more limited mandate for the panel. “We want to make sure that the mandate given to this panel is restricted to just gathering information about the situation and then coming back to present this information to the panel,” Ms. Omer said.

Ms. Dlamini-Zuma said the AUPSC would decide on Egypt’s readmission after the report of the high level panel. “We are very keen that Egypt speedily come back to the family of the AU as an active member,” she said, “The panel will give the information they have gathered and we will take it from there.”

Ms. Omer wished the AU had sent the panel to Cairo to ascertain the situation on the ground before deciding to suspend Egypt.

Reports from Cairo indicate that Egyptian military has asked the interim government to has two months to hold elections after Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Mursi, was toppled on July 3. Mr. Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood party has refused to participate in the interim government, insisting that the President be restored to office. At least 100 people have died this month in clashes between the pro-Mursi and anti-Mursi camps.

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