_: The South African Government has deliberately avoided responding to the statements issued by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since the military coup in that country. However, the last statement in response to South Africa’s statement on the current political developments in Egypt that was issued on 15 August 2013 cannot go unchallenged.
The tone and spirit of the statement from the Egyptian authorities will contribute little to the alleviation of what is increasingly becoming a political and security crisis in Egypt, initiated by the removal of a democratically elected President through a military coup.
Most unfortunate is the seemingly visible attempts by the Egyptian authorities to single-out South Africa in its criticism, this despite the overwhelming international condemnation of the recent brutal repression of demonstrations by the Egyptian security forces that led to a tragic loss of lives.
It is worth reminding the Ministry that South Africa’s principled position is based on the Constitutive Act of the African Union, where any unconstitutional change of government – whatever the premise – is specifically rejected. Egypt, as a founding member of the OAU and the African Union (AU), should respect the integrity of the continental organisation which it has been instrumental in developing over the years.
Egypt has always voted consistently in favour of suspending other members from the African Union on the same basis – and has worked with those sister countries to restore constitutional government at the earliest opportunity so that affected states may resume their valued role within the AU.
Rather than attacking the integrity of the AU, Egypt should respect the AU processes and cooperate with the AU High Level Panel in support of a peaceful and inclusive transition and restoration of constitutional order in Egypt.
The South African Government has been consistent in its emphasis of the need to find indigenous solutions for domestic challenges. Contrary to the misplaced claims by the Egyptian authorities, South Africa has never sought to export nor impose its version of national reconciliation on Egypt or any other sovereign country.
Rather, in its statement, the South African government conveyed its readiness to share with Egypt experiences and lessons from its own political transition from apartheid rule to a genuine multi-party democratic dispensation.
Moreover, the willingness to learn from South Africa’s transitional process has been expressed by a number of countries South Africa enjoys bilateral relations with, including democratic Egypt. South Africa remains ready to assist and avails itself to the Foreign Ministry and the Egyptian Embassy in South Africa of sharing our successful negotiation efforts in the continent and elsewhere.
International Relations and Cooperation’s Minister, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, in receiving the Special Envoy of the Egyptian Interim President, Ambassador Ebrahim Ali Hassan, had conclusively outlined South Africa’s position with regards to the developments in Egypt.
The Special Envoy expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the detailed explanation espoused by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane. Thus it is somewhat ingenious that the interim authority continues to misrepresent South Africa’s foreign policy positions.
South Africa remains concerned that the violence and tragic loss of Egyptian lives takes Egypt further away from the democratic aspirations as expressed by the millions of Egyptian voters last year.
It is also incumbent on those forces responsible for law and order to protect civilians and prevent further bloodshed in Egypt.
The South African Government maintains that national reconciliation and an Egyptian-led, all-inclusive negotiated process remains the only option for Egypt to get out of the present impasse.
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