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‘Threat to democracy’: World leaders appalled by storming of US Capitol
Leaders around the world condemned the storming of the United States Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, expressing shock at the chaos unfolding in a country they once relied upon for global leadership.
But Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stopped short of criticising Mr Trump for inciting the violence, saying "it is not for me to offer commentary on world leaders".
Mr Morrison said the storming of US Congress was "disgraceful", "heartbreaking" and "terribly distressing, terribly concerning".
"I am pleased that the Senate has been able to recommence their proceedings, and we hope for a peaceful and stable transition of government to the new administration elected by the American people," Morrison said.
"This is a difficult time for the United States, clearly, they're a great friend of Australia and they're one of the world's greatest democracies."
Questioned on Mr Trump's incitement of his supporters, Mr Morrison said "it's not for me to offer commentary on other world leaders, I don't do that out of respect for those matters".
"I noted the President's message this morning to tell people to go home peacefully, I hope that that's what they are doing," Mr Morrison said.
Asked about LNP MP George Christensen's promotion of conspiracy theories about the US election result, Morrison said "Australia is a free country, there's such a thing as a freedom of speech in this country, and that will continue".
Christensen, who has repeatedly endorsed claims of voter fraud on social media, was last year slapped with a warning from Facebook for misleading claims about "dodgy votes" boosting President-elect Joe Biden.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the scenes in Washington were "disgraceful".
"The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power," he said on Twitter.
Other allies were similarly appalled at what they described as an attack on American democracy, though some said they believed US democratic institutions would withstand the turmoil. Some leaders singled out Trump for harsh criticism.
"Trump and his supporters should finally accept the decision of the American voters and stop trampling on democracy," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote on Twitter. "From inflammatory words come violent deeds." He added "contempt for democratic institutions has disastrous effects".
Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who first seized power of the Pacific Island nation in a bloodless military coup in 2006, the country's third coup in six years, before winning two democratic elections, called the protesters actions "an affront to democracies around the globe".
"True and genuine democracy is a precious treasure that no nation should ever take for granted. We are confident the USA will soon close this ugly chapter once and for all," he tweeted.
In Nigeria, which has seen several coups since independence — including one led decades ago by President Muhammadu Buhari, who most recently entered the office via a vote, one of the President's personal assistants Bashir Ahmad tweeted: "The beauty of democracy?" with a shrug emoji.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera and Colombian President Iván Duque were among those in Latin America who denounced the protesters, but both also said they were confident American democracy and the rule of law would prevail.
Brazilian Supreme Court justice and the head of the country's electoral court, Luis Roberto Barroso tweeted: "In this sad episode in the US, supporters of fascism showed their real face: anti-democratic and aggressive". He said he hoped "American society and institutions react with vigour to this threat to democracy".
Venezuela, which is under US sanctions, said the events in Washington show the US "is suffering what it has generated in other countries with its politics of aggression".
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has survived US-backed opposition efforts to oust him despite accusations of human rights abuses, civil unrest and a humanitarian crisis that has forced millions to flee the oil-rich country.
In Puerto Rico, many people took to social media and joked that the US territory no longer wanted statehood. Independence, they said, looked appealing for the first time in decades.
In fact, it was that pursuit of independence that marked one of the last times the U.S. Congress was stormed violently. Four members of Puerto Rico's Nationalist Party opened fire on the House floor in March 1954, wounding five lawmakers.
European Parliament President David Sassoli, who leads one of the largest legislatures in the world, also denounced the scenes at the Capitol. The European Union has spent four cantankerous years dealing with the Trump administration, and its top officials have repeatedly said they are looking forward to a better relationship under the Biden administration.
Carl Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden tweeted: "This is insurrection. Nothing less. In Washington".
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country was "deeply disturbed" by the events in the US, Canada's closest ally and neighbour.
"Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld — and it will be," Trudeau tweeted.
Volkan Bozkir, president of the 193-member United Nations General Assembly, said he was saddened by the developments. But, he tweeted, "I believe that peace & respect for democratic processes will prevail in our host country at this critical time."
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Understand the election result and its aftermath with expert analysis from US correspondent Matthew Knott. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald‘s newsletter here, The Age‘s here, Brisbane Times‘ here and WAtoday‘s here.
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