World leaders voiced alarm over a pro-Trump mob’s breach of the U.S. Capitol, with the U.K. and Australia calling for a peaceful transfer of power and allies in Europe calling the protesters’ actions an attack on democracy.
“Disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the building. Although well known for his admiration of the outgoing president, the British leader said “it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”
Another leader who has previously voiced support of Trump, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, called the scenes “very distressing” and said he was looking forward to a peaceful transfer of power.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a radio interview that his government was “concerned.” “We’re following the situation minute by minute as it unfolds,” he said. Japan, one of the U.S.’s most powerful allies in Asia, was watching “with concern” the situation at the U.S. Capitol, chief government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told reporters.
Their comments came after President-elect Joe Biden used a Wednesday speech to urge Americans to “think what the rest of the world is looking at” when they viewed the chaotic scenes from Washington.
While some European lawmakers issued statements backing U.S. institutions and its democracy to overcome the turmoil, others were more condemning of the president and his supporters.
“The enemies of democracy will rejoice at these unbelievable images out of Washington,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. “Inflammatory words reap violent deeds.” Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said “shame on those who have incited this attack on democracy.”
Carl Bildt, co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said his “sincere hope is that the evil man who bears the responsibility ultimately will suffer the consequences.”
Other leaders on friendly terms with Trump played down their comments.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace in Brasilia that he stood by Trump. Bolsonaro has been a staunch backer of Trump, ditching Brazil’s multilateral approach to foreign policy to fully align his country to the U.S.
“You know I am connected to Trump, you know my response,” he said, adding that there “have been many reports of fraud” in the U.S. election. Bolsonaro also said he believed the 2018 Brazilian election — which he won in a runoff — was riddled with fraud. “There was fraud during mine. I should have won in the first round,” he said.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, who considers himself a political ally of Trump, refrained from any criticism of the U.S. leader, saying in a tweet the events in Washington were an “internal affair” and that power depended on the will of the voters.
Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Washington reminded its nationals living in the U.S. to step up their safety precautions. China’s government in Beijing didn’t immediately issue a direct response to the mob violence, but initial news reports on state media emphasised the chaos emanating from Washington.
© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.