Western states to send low-level officials to Sisi inauguration

Egyptians gather in Tahrir square to celebrate former Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's victory in the presidential vote in Cairo

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Egyptians gather in Tahrir square to celebrate former Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's …

CAIRO (Reuters) - Cairo's most important Western allies plan to send low-level representatives to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's presidential inauguration, officials said, a diplomatic snub meant to convey ongoing concerns about the state of Egyptian democracy.

The government that Sisi installed after he removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power last July has been accused of widespread human rights abuses against the Islamist movement as well as secular activists.

A U.S. official said Washington would send Thomas Shannon, counselor to Secretary of State John Kerry, to the inauguration on Sunday.

On Wednesday, the United States said it looked forward to working with Sisi but reiterated concerns about limits on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

The United States, which has counted on Egypt as a close Middle East ally for decades, suspended some aid after Sisi toppled Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against his rule.

A Western diplomatic source said European states would be represented by ambassadors.

"It was a collective decision," said the source, adding that the move highlighted concerns over the political transition.

The EU said in a statement on Thursday that it was concerned with the continued detention of political opponents, activists and journalists.

While Western countries have voiced concerns over alleged human rights abuses, they have not taken any strong measures to pressure Cairo.

Mursi's removal has created tense relations between Egypt and nearby states Turkey and Qatar. Turkish foreign ministry officials said the country would be represented by its charge d'affaires in Cairo.

(Reporting by Stephen Kalin in Cairo, John Irish and Lesley Wroughton in Paris; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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