E.U. Meeting In Egypt Does Little To Quell Political Crisis

Jul 30, 2013
Originally published on July 30, 2013 5:32 pm
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In Cairo today, a top European Union official became the first foreign envoy to meet with the former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Since being ousted by the military, Morsi has been detained at a secret location. The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, says she spent two hours with Morsi and that he's doing well. But as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, the meeting did little to quell the political crisis in Egypt.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: At a televised news conference in Cairo, Ashton told reporters that Morsi is aware of what's happening in Egypt and has access to newspapers and television. She said she saw him at the location where he is being held but that she didn't know where it was.

CATHERINE ASHTON: I will not try and represent what he said because he cannot contradict me and it would be wrong to do that. But I talked to him about what I was trying to do, and I listened to what he had to say.

NELSON: Ashton, who also met with the Egyptian general who headed the coup, as well as officials of the interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood from which Morsi hails, says that only an inclusive process where all sides come together will end the country's political crisis. Ashton said she will continue her mediation efforts. But Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, at the same news conference, made it clear Morsi will not be part of any future negotiations.

VICE PRESIDENT MOHAMED ELBARADEI: Mr. Morsi failed, but the brotherhood very much continued to be part of the political process, and we would like them to continue to be part of the political process.

NELSON: Baradei repeated his government's demands that Morsi's supporters end the violence without speaking to the role Egyptian police forces have played. Morsi's supporters have held daily protests since he was ousted on July 3rd, many of them ending in bloodshed. Last weekend, more than 70 protesters were killed in clashes with riot police in Cairo, many of them shot in the head, neck and chest according to Human Rights Watch and several doctors who treated the casualties.

The interior minister and others within the government have warned that the protest camps will be forcibly cleared as they are interrupting daily Egyptian life. Nevertheless, the Muslim Brotherhood vows to keep sending people into the streets until Morsi is restored to power. Brotherhood leaders argue anything less would spell an end to Egypt's fledgling democracy. There were several more protests today, like this one captured in an online video.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Foreign language spoken)

NELSON: These pro-Morsi protesters, most of them women, carried fake coffins to represent those killed since his ouster. They shouted: Rest, you martyrs. We will continue the fight, and the military must go. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Cairo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.