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EU calls for swift Egypt elections after Morsi ousted

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(BRUSSELS) - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called for a swift return to democracy in Egypt after the army there deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday.

"I am following closely developments in Egypt and am fully aware of the deep divisions in society, popular demands for political change and efforts at brokering a compromise," she said in a statement Wednesday.

"I urge all sides to rapidly return to the democratic process, including the holding of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections and the approval of a constitution," she added.

She expressed hope that the new, transitional administration would be fully inclusive and that human rights and the rule of law would be respected.

Ashton was speaking hours after the army toppled Morsi after a week of bloodshed that killed nearly 50 people in clashes between rival political factions.

"I strongly condemn all violent acts, offer my condolences to the families of the victims, and urge the security forces to do everything in their power to protect the lives and well-being of Egyptian citizens," said Ashton.

Morsi's own defence minister, armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, announced a transitional administration ahead of fresh elections, as Morsi's supporters denounced what they said was a coup.

Security officials said senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood close to Morsi had been arrested.

A Morsi aide told AFP that Egyptian security forces had shut down a Muslim Brotherhood television channel.

Staff of Al-Jazeera's Egypt affiliate were also arrested after the channel aired a defiant speech by the deposed president, the aide added.

An earlier statement from Ashton on Wednesday appealed to all sides to show restraint.

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