Australian political leaders past and present are calling for a peaceful transfer of power in the US as supporters of President Donald Trump cause chaos in Washington DC.
Pro-Trump protesters sent Washington DC into lockdown on Thursday after breaching the US Capitol building in a bid to prevent Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s election victory.
American politicians were holed up in the building after the police were forced to evacuate them from sessions in the Senate and Congress.
The National Guard has been called in to quell the riots. A woman has died after being shot in the chaotic scenes, though the circumstances surrounding the incident remain unclear.
Politicians were sitting to rubberstamp the 2020 election result, which Mr Trump continues to falsely claim was rigged.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison avoided criticising his American counterpart directly but called for the “distressing scenes” to end.
“We condemn these acts of violence and look forward to a peaceful transfers of Government to the newly elected administration in the great American democratic tradition,” he tweeted on Thursday.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese went further, accusing the outgoing President of stoking the violence and describing the protests as an “insurrection”.
“Democracy is precious and cannot be taken for granted,” he said on Twitter on Wednesday.
“The violent insurrection in Washington is an assault on the rule of law and democracy.”
“Donald Trump has encouraged this response and must now call on his supporters to stand down.”
Foreign Minister Marise Payne condemned the violence, but said American democracy was strong enough to survive the assault.
“Very concerned by the scenes at the US Congress. I condemn any violence to interfere with democratic processes,” she wrote on Twitter.
“This will not impede the transfer of power, US institutions are robust and its democratic strength resides in the full breadth of its people who are no part of this violence.”
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who endured a difficult relationship with the Mr Trump, said the Republican Party had enabled its leader’s authoritarian tendencies.
“Today’s mob violence at the Capitol is the culmination of Trump’s sustained assault on American democracy,” he tweeted.
“The President should call on the mob he incited to disperse and go home. And Trump’s supporters in the GOP and the media should reflect on what they have enabled.”
The comments echoed those made by US President-elect Joe Biden, who said the assault “borders on sedition” and demanded Mr Trump stand the rioters down.
In a video message to his supporters, Mr Trump insisted the election had been “stolen” but urged his supporters to return home peacefully.
Earlier, he appeared at a rally where he pledged to “never concede” the result.
“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by the radical left democrats, which is what they’re doing, and stolen by the fake news media,” he said.
“That’s what they’ve done and what they’re doing. We will never give up, we will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.
“Our country is had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about.”