HANOI (Reuters) - Egypt’s civilian and military authorities should work together to preserve its political transition after its president defied the army and the courts by restoring parliament, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.
Newly-elected President Mohamed Mursi took the confrontational step of reinstating the parliament despite a court decision declaring its election unconstitutional and the assembly’s subsequent dissolution by the military.
Mursi’s decision a little over a week after taking office has startled U.S. officials, some of whom expected him to adopt a more conciliatory stance with the military.
“We have seen over the last few days that there is a lot of work ahead of Egypt to keep this transition on course,” Clinton told reporters, referring to the political evolution since mass protests helped bring down long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak.
“We strongly urge dialogue and concerted effort on the part of all to try to deal with the problems that are understandable but have to be resolved in order to avoid any kind of difficulties that could derail the transition,” she added in a news conference with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.
Egypt’s parliament reconvened on Tuesday after the president’s decision. The army defended its dissolution of the assembly, saying it was confident “all state institutions” would respect the constitution and the law.
Responding to Mursi’s challenge, the military council said in a statement read out on state television it had dissolved parliament based on ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court, and had always acting to support “the will of the people.”
After a meeting over Mursi’s decree, the supreme court said its decisions were final and binding, and said it would review cases challenging the decree’s constitutionality on Tuesday.
Clinton urged “intensive dialogue” among all sides “in order to ensure that there is a clear path for them to be following and that the Egyptian people get what they protested for and what they voted for, which is a fully elected government.”
The U.S. secretary of state made the comments in the middle of a marathon trip to Europe, Asia and the Middle East, where she plans to visit Cairo on July 14, becoming the senior-most U.S. official to visit since Mursi was sworn in on June 30.
Clinton said that democracy was about more than elections.
“It is about creating a vibrant, inclusive political dialogue, listening to civil (society), having good relations between civilian officials and military officials, where each is working to serve the interests of the citizens,” she said.
Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Jonathan Thatcher