World leaders yesterday voiced alarm over a mob’s breach of the US Capitol, with the UK and Australia calling for a peaceful transfer of US presidential power and allies in Europe calling the protesters’ actions an attack on democracy.
“Disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted after supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the building.
Although well-known for his admiration of the outgoing US president, Johnson said that “it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”
Another leader who has previously voiced support of Trump, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, called the scenes “very distressing” and said that he was looking forward to a peaceful transfer of power.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a radio interview that his government was “concerned.”
“We’re following the situation minute by minute as it unfolds,” he said.
Japan, one of the US’ most powerful allies in Asia, was watching “with concern” the situation at the Capitol, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed anger and sadness over the images from Washington.
“I regret very much that President Trump has not recognized his defeat since November, and again yesterday,” she told reporters in Berlin. “Doubt was sown about the election result and that created the atmosphere for the events of yesterday evening.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the storming of the Capitol by demonstrators was “a disgraceful act that must be vigorously condemned.”
Calling the incident in Washington a “rampage” during televised remarks with visiting US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Netanyahu said that he had no doubt that “American democracy will prevail.”
“It always has,” he added.
However, other leaders on friendly terms with Trump played down their comments.
Their comments came after US president-elect Joe Biden — whose victory was confirmed by Congress early yesterday — used a televised appearance to urge Americans to “think what the rest of the world is looking at” when they viewed the chaotic scenes from Washington.
While some European lawmakers issued statements backing US institutions and its democracy to overcome the turmoil, others were more condemning of Trump and his supporters.
“The enemies of democracy will rejoice at these unbelievable images out of Washington,” German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas said. “Inflammatory words reap violent deeds.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Shame on those who have incited this attack on democracy.”
Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said on Twitter that the storming of the Capitol was “a deliberate assault on Democracy by a sitting president,” adding that “the world is watching.”
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace in Brasilia that he stood by Trump.
“You know I am connected to Trump, you know my response,” said Bolsonaro, a staunch backer of Trump, adding that there “have been many reports of fraud” in the US election.
Bolsonaro also said he believed that the 2018 Brazilian presidential election — which he won in a runoff — was riddled with fraud.
“There was fraud during mine. I should have won in the first round,” he said.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, who considers himself a political ally of Trump, refrained from any criticism of the US leader, saying in a tweet that the events in Washington were an “internal affair” and that power depended on the will of the voters.
Meanwhile, China used the opportunity to drove home a narrative of the US’ hypocrisy, with state media casting the situation as “retribution” for Washington’s support for global protest movements, including Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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