By Justin Sink - 06/10/14 04:00 PM EDT
President Obama called Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi on Tuesday to congratulate him on his election in a controversial vote earlier this month.
The move effectively endorsed the election of the former commander of Egypt’s military, despite administration “concerns” after al-Sisi took nearly 97 percent of the vote.
"The President reiterated the United States’ continuing support for the political, economic, and social aspirations of the Egyptian people, and respect for their universal rights," the statement continued.
"President al-Sisi expressed appreciation for the call and welcomed U.S. support for the new government. The two leaders affirmed their commitment to the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt and agreed to stay in touch in the weeks and months ahead," the White House said.
Last week, press secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. shared “concerns raised by observation groups about the restrictive political environment in which this election took place.”
“We have consistently expressed our concerns about limits on freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression and call upon the government to ensure these freedoms as well as due process rights for all Egyptians,” he said.
“As Egypt looks toward parliamentary elections later this year, we urge the government to consider the recommendations of the observer groups on ways to improve the administration of future elections,” Carney added.
Allies of Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president who was toppled by the military last year, boycotted the polls. Morsi, supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, had inspired mass protests in Cairo and sought additional constitutional powers that would exempt him from judicial oversight.
The administration notably refused to call the ouster of Morsi, who was democratically elected, a coup, allowing the U.S. to continue providing Egypt with military aid.