“We are following with great concern the extremely tense situation in Egypt and wish to convey a strong message of solidarity and support to the Egyptian people,” the Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva.
“We call on the President of Egypt to listen to the demands and wishes of the Egyptian people […] and to address key issues raised by the opposition and civil society in recent months, as well as to heed the lessons of the past in this particularly fragile situation.”
Egypt has been undergoing a democratic transition following the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago in the wake of mass protests similar to those seen in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa as part of what had been called the “Arab Spring.”
Protests have been taking place in various cities in recent days, with protesters reportedly calling for the resignation of President Mohamed Mursi.
At least 20 die in clashes between president’s supporters, opponents on Tuesday and early hours of Wednesday, according to Al Ahram news website.
On Monday, the Egyptian Armed Forces gave all parties involved in the ongoing political impasse until Wednesday 17:00 (Cairo time) to end their differences.
Should they fail to do so, the armed forces warned that it would issue its own “roadmap” for Egypt’s political future.
Mursi, meanwhile, delivered a speech Tuesday night in which he defied opposition calls to step down.
Yesterday, the UN Secretary-General repeated his call for all parties to uphold the law, while respecting the right to demonstrate peacefully. In particular, he underlined that this right must be extended to female demonstrators, given the concerns over the high number of reports of sexual assaults.