WASHINGTON: World leaders on Wednesday (Jan 6) expressed shock at the violent protesters who overran the US Congress and attempts to overturn the Nov 3 presidential election results which dealt a victory to Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Police in the US Capitol responded with drawn guns and tear gas as hundreds of protesters stormed in and sought to force Congress to undo President Donald Trump’s election loss shortly after some of Trump’s fellow Republicans launched a last-ditch effort to throw out the results.
Here are reactions from around the world:
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a tweet described the scenes in the US Congress as 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.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab added in his own tweet: “The US rightly takes great pride in its democracy, and there can be no justification for these violent attempts to frustrate the lawful and proper transition of power.”
In a video published on his Twitter account, French President Emmanuel Macron slammed the scenes of violence in Washington while also expressing his belief in the strength of the democratic process in the US.
Macron spoke in both English and French in his Twitter video messages, which carried the hashtag of “#WeAreOne”.
“I just wanted to express our friendship and our faith in the United States. What happened today in Washington DC is not American, definitely. We believe in the strength of our democracies. We believe in the strength of American democracy,” said Macron, speaking in English.
Earlier, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Twitter: “The violence against the American institutions is a grave attack on democracy. I condemn it. The will and the vote of the American people must be respected.”
“In the eyes of the world, American democracy tonight appears under siege,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted.
Calling the action an “assault on US democracy, its institutions and the rule of law”, he added: “This is not America. The election results of Nov 3 must be fully respected.”
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 US voters’ decision.
In a Tweet posted after protesters stormed the seat of the US legislature, 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.”
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is also the vice chancellor, likewise condemned the “disturbing images” from Washington.
“Quite Maidan-style pictures are coming from DC,” Russia’s deputy UN 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-US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland offered food to protesters.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern about the violent scenes 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.”
Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Twitter: “Canada is deeply shocked by the situation in Washington DC. The peaceful transition of power is fundamental to democracy – it must continue and it will. We are following developments closely and our thoughts are with the American people.”
Singapore Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean said he hoped for a “peaceful” end to the crisis.
In a Facebook post, he said: “Have been up, watching shocking scenes in the US Congress where protesters have entered the Chamber, stopped proceedings and forced members to flee.
“Law officers with drawn guns were unable to stop them. Police in full riot gear are now gathering to try to restore order. The Washington DC Mayor has declared a curfew.
“We hope this ends peacefully. It’s a sad day.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Trump ally who has heaped praise on the outgoing US president in the past, said he was “distressed to see news about rioting and violence” in Washington.
“Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue. The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests,” he tweeted.
Japan’s top government spokesman said the country was concerned and closely monitoring the breach at the US Capitol. “We are hoping for a peaceful transfer of power” in the United States, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters.
Australian PM Scott Morrison condemned the “very distressing scenes” in the US.
“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 tweeted.
Jacinda Ardern tweeted: “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.”
The prime minister added her country’s thoughts were with everyone “devastated” by today’s events, adding: “What is happening is wrong.”
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.
“The new Presidency of @JoeBiden will overcome this time of tension, uniting the American people.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the violent protests in Washington “shocking scenes” and said the outcome of the democratic US election must be respected.
“Horrible images from Washington D.C. Dear @realDonaldTrump, recognise @JoeBiden as the next president today,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Twitter.
The plain-speaking Rutte once during a visit to the White House in 2018 interrupted Trump with a loud “no” when Trump made an assertion about EU-US trade.
Irish premier Micheal Martin, who has invited the Irish-American Biden to visit his ancestral homeland early in his presidency, tweeted his condemnation.
“The Irish people have a deep connection with the United States of America, built up over many generations. I know that many, like me, will be watching the scenes unfolding in Washington DC with great concern and dismay,” Martin said.
“Extremely troubled by the violence and horrible events taking place in Washington D.C. American democracy is resilient, deeply rooted and will overcome this crisis,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a tweet.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in a tweet described the incidents 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.”
“We are following with concern the internal developments happening in the US,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We call on all parties in the US to maintain restrain and prudence. We believe the US will overcome this internal political crisis in a mature manner.”
“This is an unacceptable assault on democracy. A peaceful and orderly transfer of power must be ensured,” said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Twitter.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said in a tweet: “The looting and violence at the US Senate are not a good example for countries where democracy is fighting hard for a place in the sun. Given the emotions sparked by the US presidential election, we could expect today’s session to be far from ordinary. Where were the police and the Senate bodyguards…?”
“Extremism, violence, polarization and violence is never the way forward. Terrible pictures from Washington. May democracy be brought back to working again,” Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Facebook
Slovenia’s right-wing Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who backed Trump and who has yet to congratulate Biden on his victory, tweeted: “All should be very troubled by the violence taking place in Washington D.C.”
“We hope American democracy is resilient, deeply rooted and will overcome this crisis. Democracy presupposes peaceful protest, but violence and death threats -from Left or Right- are ALWAYS wrong.”
The prime minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama – who led a coup in 2006 and was accused of assaulting an opposition lawmaker in 2019 – added his condemnation.
“The violent scenes we saw in Washington today are an affront to democracies around the globe. True and genuine democracy is a precious treasure that no nation should ever take for granted,” he tweeted.