WASHINGTON — The United States congratulated the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi on his election as Egypt’s new president and urged his government to fulfill its role as a “pillar of regional peace.”
After a bitterly divisive election that pitted Morsi against Mubarak-era premier Ahmed Shafiq, the White House called on the newly elected leader to bridge a polarized nation.
“We believe that it is important for president-elect Morsi to take steps at this historic time to advance national unity by reaching out to all parties and constituencies in consultations about the formation of a new government,” spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
And after Morsi’s victory marked the first time Islamists have taken the presidency of the Arab world’s most populous nation, the White House called on the newly crowned leader to maintain Egypt’s long-standing role as regional powerbroker.
“We believe it is essential for the Egyptian government to continue to fulfill Egypt’s role as a pillar of regional peace, security and stability,” Carney said, in a veiled reference to hopes for continued cooperation with Israel.
Egypt is one of only two Arab countries — the other is Jordan — to have made peace with the Jewish state. The Egypt-Israel peace treaty was signed in 1979.
The United States, which has provided over $1 billion in annual military aid to Egypt for years, has also previously expressed concern over the Muslim Brotherhood’s record on the rights of women and non-Muslim minorities in the country.
“We believe in the importance of the new Egyptian government upholding universal values, and respecting the rights of all Egyptian citizens — including women and religious minorities such as Coptic Christians,” Carney said.
“Millions of Egyptians voted in the election, and president-elect Morsi and the new Egyptian government have both the legitimacy and responsibility of representing a diverse and courageous citizenry.”
His statement hailed the election, congratulating Egyptians on “this milestone in their transition to democracy.”
Despite the historic significance of Morsi’s win, recent moves by the ruling military to consolidate its power have rendered the post toothless.