By Julian Pecquet - 08/14/13 07:02 PM EDT
Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday denounced the violent crackdown by the Egyptian military as a “deplorable” and unnecessary escalation that represents a “serious blow” to peace and democracy. [WATCH VIDEO]
Kerry said Egypt faced a “pivotal moment” and warned the military-appointed interim government that the “world is closely watching” how it responds.
It is estimated that 278 people were killed Wednesday when the army raided camps across Egypt where supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi have been protesting for the past month. The death total includes 43 police officers sent to dismantle the pro-Morsi sit-ins, according to Egypt's Health Ministry.
“Today's events are deplorable, and they run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion and genuine democracy,” Kerry said during a 5-minute surprise appearance at the State Department's daily press briefing. “It's a serious blow to reconciliation and the Egyptian people's hopes for a transition towards democracy and inclusion.”
“Violence will not create a roadmap to Egypt's future,” he said.
Kerry went on to call for a rapid end to the monthlong state of emergency announced Wednesday. He said the United States and other nations have continuously urged the army to refrain from violence. Kerry added that a peaceful solution, which remains the “only sustainable path” to democracy, was made “much much harder, much more complicated by the events of today.”
The secretary also called on Egyptian leaders to quickly amend the constitution and hold new elections, saying the interim government and the military hold the “preponderance of power” in resolving the situation. He also urged Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters to refrain from “provocation.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen PSaki said Kerry he spoke to foreign ministers of Egypt and Qatar on Wednesday, as well as liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei following his resignation as interim vice president. ElBaradei said he didn't approve of the crackdown and “cannot bear the responsibility for one drop of blood.”
This story was updated at 5:16 p.m.
Please send tips and comments to Julian Pecquet: firstname.lastname@example.org