UN calls for ‘maximum restraint’ in Egypt

Security Council says it “regretted loss of lives” in Cairo, and spoke of the need to “advance national reconciliation”.

egypt mosque bodies mourning nasr city
Egypt's health ministry says at least 578 people were killed after the military stormed pro-Morsi sit-ins [AFP]

The UN Security Council has called on the Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood to exercise “maximum restraint”, after an emergency meeting.

Thursday’s announcement comes a day after at least 578 people were killed when security forces broke up protest camps allied to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The protesters had been demanding the reinstatement of President Mohamed Morsi, overthrown by the army on July 3.

“The view of council members is that it is important to end violence in Egypt, and that the parties exercise maximum restraint,” Argentine UN Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval told reporters after the 15-member council met on the situation.

The council was briefed on the situation in Egypt behind closed doors by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson.

The meeting was jointly requested by council members France, Britain and Australia.

Cairo’s military-backed rulers ordered the storming of pro-Morsi protest camps after dawn on Wednesday, six weeks after the army overthrew him.

“The members first of all expressed their sympathy to the victims and regretted the loss of lives,” said Perceval, who is council president for August.

“There was a common desire on the need to stop violence and to advance national reconciliation.”

‘Not based on facts’

Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey, reporting from New York, said nothing significant was agreed upon. 

“They hastily cobbled together this meeting. It means they are concerned about the level of violence, but they did not agree on anything significant,” our correspondent said.

“But just the fact that they held the meeting is significant.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s presidency said US President Barack Obama’s condemnation of the crackdown was “not based on facts”.

“We deplore violence against civilians, ” said Obama, adding that joint military exercises with the Egyptian army were being cancelled in light of the armed forces’ bloody crackdown.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navil Pillay called for an independent investigation into the heavy toll in the clashes.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies