World stunned by Trump supporters storming US Capitol, attempts to overturn election
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - World leaders on Wednesday expressed their shock as supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol building where Congress meets in an attempt to overturn the results of the November 3 election won by Joe Biden.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “saddened” by the events at the US Capitol, his spokesman said.
“In such circumstances, it is important that political leaders impress on their followers the need to refrain from violence, as well as to respect democratic processes and the rule of law,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
The Chinese embassy issued an advisory on its website on Wednesday warning Chinese citizens to strengthen safety precautions in light of a “large-scale demonstration” in Washington D.C. and a curfew announced by the local government.
“Distressed to see news about rioting and violence in Washington DC,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet. “Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue. The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests.”
“We decline to comment on President Trump’s political style as this is about U.S. domestic affairs,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters.
“But we hope to see democracy in the United States overcome this difficult situation, calmness and harmony regained, and a peaceful and democratic transfer of power.”
“What happened today in Washington DC is not American, definitely,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a video message on Twitter.
“We believe in the strength of our democracies. We believe in the strength of American democracy,” he said, speaking in English.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a tweet called the events in the U.S. Congress a “disgrace”, saying the United States stood for democracy around the world and that was it was “vital” now that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said democracy’s enemies would be cheered by scenes of violence at the United States Capitol, and he called on Trump to accept U.S. voters’ decision.
In a Tweet, Maas said the violence had been caused by inflammatory rhetoric. “Trump and his supporters must accept the decision of American voters at last and stop trampling on democracy.”
“Quite Maidan-style pictures are coming from DC,” Russia’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy posted on Twitter, referring to protests in Ukraine that toppled Russian-backed President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich in 2014.
“Some of my friends ask whether someone will distribute crackers to the protesters to echo Victoria Nuland stunt,” he said, citing a 2013 visit to Ukraine when then-U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland offered food to protesters.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the violent protests in Washington “shocking scenes” and said the outcome of the democratic U.S. election must be respected.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a tweet: “I am following with concern the news that are coming from Capitol Hill in Washington. I trust in the strength of America’s democracy.
Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney called the scenes in Washington “a deliberate assault on Democracy by a sitting President & his supporters, attempting to overturn a free & fair election! The world is watching! We hope for restoration of calm.”
Turkey’s foreign ministry issued a statement expressing concern about the violence and called for calm and common sense while urging its citizens to avoid crowds and the protest area.
Charles Michel, chairman of EU leaders, on Twitter expressed his shock at the scenes in Washington. “The US Congress is a temple of democracy...We trust the US to ensure a peaceful transfer of power to @JoeBiden”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “I believe in the strength of US institutions and democracy. Peaceful transition of power is at the core. @JoeBiden won the election. I look forward to working with him as the next President of the USA.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his concern about events in Washington. “Obviously we’re concerned and we’re following the situation minute by minute,” Trudeau told the News 1130 Vancouver radio station. “I think the American democratic institutions are strong, and hopefully everything will return to normal shortly.”
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in a tweet described the scenes as “an attack on democracy”. “President Trump and many members of Congress bear significant responsibility for what’s now taking place. The democratic process of electing a president must be respected.”
Norwegian Prime Minster Erna Solberg posted on Twitter: “This is an unacceptable attack on the U.S. democracy. President Trump is responsible for stopping this. Scary images, and unbelievable that this is happening in the United States.”
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a statement: “The attack on Capitol Hill in Washington DC is a very serious and worrying matter. It shows how important it is to firmly and strongly defend democracy at all times.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the scenes in Washington as “distressing.” “We condemn these acts of violence and look forward to a peaceful transfer of Government to the newly elected administration in the great American democratic tradition,” he posted on Twitter.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Twitter: “Democracy - the right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully should never be undone by a mob. Our thoughts are with everyone who is as devastated as we are by the events of today. I have no doubt democracy will prevail.”
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted: “Venezuela expresses its concern for the violent events that are taking place in the city of Washington, USA; condemns the political polarization and hopes that the American people will open a new path toward stability and social justice.”
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez tweeted: “We express our condemnation of the serious acts of violence and the affront to Congress that occurred today in Washington DC. We trust that there will be a peaceful transition that respects the popular will and we express our strongest support for President-elect Joe Biden.”