With massive protests in Egypt reportedly sparking violent clashes across the country, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this evening urged the security forces to protect the protesters and called on the Egyptian people to demonstrate "exclusively by peaceful means."
"The Secretary-General is following with growing concern the latest developments in the unfolding crisis in Egypt, said a statement issued by his spokesperson, which adds that at such a critical juncture, all Egyptians must work together for peaceful restoration of constitutional order. "There is no place for retribution or for the exclusion of any major party or community."
The UN chief expressed his concern as news media reports cite mounting tensions and violent clashes and mass arrests across Egypt. On Wednesday, the Egyptian military, which had earlier in the week given the opposing parties 48 hours to resolve their differences, deposed President Mohamed Morsy, suspended the Constitution and paved they way for an interim Government.
"While some of those arrested have now been released, others are still being detained. There are also worrying reports about failure to apply due process and restrictions on freedom of expression and the press," Ban says in the statement.
"Alarmingly, violent clashes between protesters have erupted. There are reports that some have been killed or wounded by security forces. There are horrifying reports of sexual violence," the statement continues, adding: "The Secretary-General calls on the Egyptian security forces to protect demonstrators and prevent violent clashes."
Ban also called on the people of Egypt to exercise their right to demonstrate exclusively by peaceful means.
"The Secretary-General believes strongly that this is a critical juncture in which it is imperative for Egyptians to work together to chart a peaceful return to civilian control, constitutional order, and democratic governance," said the statement, which stressed that Egypt´s political leaders have a responsibility to signal, by their words and their actions, "their commitment to a peaceful and democratic dialogue which includes all of Egypt´s constituencies, including women."
"The way forward should be determined by the people of Egypt themselves, in a manner that respects the full diversity of Egyptian political views," Ban´s statement said, adding that he remains confident that the Egyptian people will be able to successfully address the challenges the country currently faces.
"He commits to fostering an ongoing strong partnership with Egypt to support a peaceful transition to a representative and democratic governance."