Obama prods Egypt government on democracy, urges peace

DAR ES SALAAM – U.S. President Barack Obama prodded the government of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy on Monday to work with the opposition and do more to enact democratic reforms, saying U.S. aid to the North African nation was based on such criteria.

Obama, speaking at a news conference in Tanzania, said the United States, which gives Egypt $1.3 billion a year in military aid plus other support, was concerned about the violence and urged all sides to work towards a peaceful solution.

As Obama spoke, the head of Egypt's armed forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, gave politicians 48 hours to answer demands made by the Egyptian people in mass rallies, or have the military present its own "road map for the future".

"We're all concerned about what's happening in Egypt," Obama said. "There is more work to be done to create the conditions in which everybody feels that their voices are heard and that the government is responsive and truly representative."

Asked about U.S. aid to Egypt, Obama said it included regular assistance and some support now being held up and requiring approval from U.S. Congress. He did not give details.

"But the way we make decisions about assistance to Egypt is based on 'are they in fact following the rule of law and democratic procedures?'," he said, speaking on the last stop of his three-nation tour of Africa.

"We don't make those decisions just by counting the number of heads in a protest march but we do make decisions based on whether or not a government is listening to the opposition, maintaining a free press, maintaining freedom of assembly, not using violence or intimidation, conducting fair and free elections," he said.

"We press the Egyptian government very hard on those issues."

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