State department official to lead US team to Sisi swearing-in

WASHINGTON (TIP): A senior state department official will represent the United States at Sunday’s inauguration of the new Egyptian president, but in a sign of US unease, no cabinet-level ministers will attend. The US delegation to the swearing-in of president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will be led by state department counselor Thomas Shannon, a senior adviser to secretary of state John Kerry, a US official said.

“The United States looks forward to working with president-elect al-Sisi in Egypt and his government to advance our strategic partnership and many shared interests,” State department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said. But she acknowledged to reporters that the US administration was not yet “satisfied” with the progress made in returning to democracy in Egypt. A former general, Sisi won nearly 97% of the vote in last week’s polls, nearly a year after he toppled Egypt’s first freely elected leader, Islamist Morsi.

“There’s more work to do,” Harf told reporters. “We believe Egypt needs to continue its transition toward a stable, inclusive and civilian-led democracy.” She stressed that elections were only part of the process to move the country toward democracy. “Democracy is about more than just a ballot box, it’s about how you govern, it’s about how inclusive you are,” Harf added.

“So we’re going to be looking for all of those things going forward in terms of how this new government behaves.” The US has partially lifted a freeze on military aid to Egypt, and 10 Apache helicopters are due to be leaving storage to head to the country to help counterterrorism efforts in the Sinai. Harf confirmed that another chunk of US military aid, including Harpoon missiles and parts for Abram tanks, remained frozen.

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