BRUSSELS - The European Union on Friday condemned "excessive violence" in Egypt's handling of protesters seeking an end to military rule and urged Cairo to move quickly towards a civilian government.
Demonstrators in Cairo, where 41 people have been killed in violence before a parliamentary election due to begin on Monday, accuse the military leadership of seeking to hold onto power from behind the scenes.
"The European Union is deeply concerned about the critical situation in Egypt and condemns the excessive violence committed by the Egyptian authorities against the population," EU foreign policy spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told a regular news briefing.
"We urge a swift handover to civilian government and underline the need for democratic transition to be transparent, fair and accountable. The elections must respect the timetable that was announced."
She said the European Union expected an independent investigation into the events in Cairo. She reiterated that the EU deplored the loss of life and that "law and order must be ensured in a manner that is respectful of human rights".