Ashton frustrated by Egyptian reforms

June 21, 2012 at 1:48 PM
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BRUSSELS, June 21 (UPI) -- The EU's top foreign policy official praised the Egyptian people for taking part in elections but expressed concern about recent political constraints.

Egyptians last weekend took part in the second round of voting for what will be the first democratically elected president in the country's history. Mohammed Morsi, a candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, faced off against Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force general and the last prime minister to serve under ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Shortly after the election Sunday, however, the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces took a series of steps that diminishes the power of the president. Last week, a constitutional court dissolved the country's legislative assembly.

Catherine Ashton, the top foreign policy official for the European Commission, praised the Egyptian people for embracing democracy but expressed serious concern about recent political developments.

"The High Representative stresses the importance of democratic institutions, a representative constitutional process and a speedy handover," a statement issued through Ashton's spokesman read. "The transition must respect the Egyptian people's aspirations and demands for dignity, democracy and freedom."

The Carter Center, a pro-democracy group led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, issued a similar statement this week, echoing concerns expressed in January.

The Muslim Brotherhood said it was calling for demonstrations Friday. Morsi's legal team, a statement from the group said, filed more than 100 complaints with the presidential elections committee.

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