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AU Council Meets Over Egypt Crisis

Adli Mansour (C), Egypt's chief justice and head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, speaks at his swearing in ceremony as the nation's interim president in Cairo, July 4, 2013, a day after the army ousted Mohamed Morsi as head of state.
The African Union Peace and Security Council plans to meet Friday to discuss the latest developments in Egypt, following the military’s ouster of the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi only a year into his term.

“The agenda is what has happened in Cairo [or] in Egypt in general, so we wait to see what will happen,” said AU Deputy Commissioner Erastus Mwencha. “The road map ahead is to get in touch with the interim authority and to work with the authorities to bring the country back to constitutional order.”

Mwencha says Egypt’s membership in the continental body could be suspended as part of the AU zero tolerance for the forceful seizure of power from a democratically elected leader.

“Under our principles, any undemocratic or unconstitutional change of government, the route is quite clear for the African Union that such a country is suspended immediately, and can only rejoin the organization once the constitutional order has been reinstated,” said Mwencha.

The African Union has expressed concern about Mr. Morsi's ouster and has urged the military to ensure his safety. It is unclear where the military is holding the former president.

“The African Union has called for calmness and [we] want to make sure that all the parties concerned can resort to dialogue, to find a way forward so that there is a peaceful process,” said Mwencha. “[Mr. Morsi] has issued a statement where he asked his supporters not to indulge in any acts of violence, and I think the same should also apply for him that he should be really treated with utmost respect. Given the fact that he has not resisted, he has allowed smooth transfer of power and one would hope that he would be kept secure.”

Mwencha’s comments came after Constitutional Court Chief Justice Adly Mansour took the oath of office as interim president Thursday in a ceremony broadcast on state television.

Mwencha says the African Union will continue to engage with leaders in Egypt as part of its effort to quickly restore the North African country to constitutional rule.

“The African Union is ready and willing to be present to support the process so that there is no violence, there is calmness and the country doesn’t degenerate into anarchy of any sort,” said Mwencha. “So even if a country is suspended, we remain accompanying that country to reinstate the constitutional order.”
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