Egypt's military intervention against President Mohammed Morsi has prompted mixed reactions around the world. One relatively unanimous message was a call to all sides in Egypt to remain calm and refrain from violence.
The European Union said that it hoped for prompt elections in Egypt, a return to democratic rule, and the introduction of an inclusive new administration representing as broad a majority of the country as possible.
"I urge all sides to rapidly return to the democratic process, including the holding of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections and the approval of a constitution, to be done in a fully inclusive manner, so as to permit the country to resume and complete its democratic transition," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement. "I strongly condemn all violent acts, offer my condolences to the families of the victims, and urge the security forces to do everything in their power to protect the lives and well-being of Egyptian citizens."
Speaking on the sidelines of an official visit to Greece, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle described Morsi's ousting as a "major setback for democracy in Egypt."
"It is urgent that Egypt return as quickly as possible to the constitutional order... there is a real danger that the democratic transition in Egypt will be seriously damaged," he said.
Obama 'deeply concerned'
US President Barack Obama held a lengthy meeting with national security advisors in Washington after the Egyptian military moved to oust Morsi.
"We believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people," Obama said in a statement. "Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution."
The White House had stuck by Egypt's first democratically-elected president even as his public popularity began to wane in recent months.
In his statement, Obama called on the military "to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters."
Shortly thereafter, members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood said that the president and other senior officials were under house arrest in a military facility in Cairo.
A Canadian foreign ministry spokesman said his government hoped for a "constructive dialogue" after Morsi's ouster, while France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said the end goal for Egypt was still that "the people can freely choose their leaders and their future."
British Foreign Minister William Hague said that while the UK "does not support military intervention as a way to resolve disputes in a democratic system," there remained the chance for all parties to "show the leadership and vision needed to restore and renew Egypt's democratic transition."
Saudi Arabia and Syria welcome change
Saudi King Abdullah sent a message to the head of Egypt's Constitutional Court, Adil Mansour, late on Wednesday to congratulate him on being named interim president.
"We pray for God to help you bear the responsibility laid upon you to achieve the ambitions of our brotherly people of Egypt," the message said.
The president of war-torn Syria, Bashar al-Assad, was quoted by the Thawra newspaper as saying that Morsi's removal from office marked "the fall of what is called political Islam." Assad portrays the Syrian civil war as, among other things, a battle to maintain a separation between faith and politics in the country.
Sudan, governed by Islamist President Omar al-Bashir who met with Morsi in a landmark visit this April, said it was "following with concern" developments in its "sister" country Egypt. The state SUNA news agency, citing a foreign ministry statement, reported that Sudan was keen to "maintain its fraternal relations with Egypt and to enhance further the bilateral relations."
Amnesty International issued a statement saying it was time for "extreme caution and restraint" in Egypt, saying the armed forces and police "have a well documented record of human rights violations which must not be repeated."
"No one should be punished for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association or assembly," Amnesty General Secretary Salil Shetty said. "Anyone taken into detention should be charged promptly with a recognizable criminal offence, or released. And security forces should refrain from using unnecessary and excessive force."
msh/lw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)