The political turmoil in Egypt reached new heights on Wednesday, following reports that the vice president had resigned to protest the police crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
Mohamed ElBaradei submitted a letter of resignation on Wednesday to interim President Adly Mansour, the former head of the Supreme Constitutional Court who has taken over control of the country following military action that deposed Morsi in early July. Mansor had named ElBaradei as his deputy for foreign relations.
ElBaradei wrote he is not willing to accept responsibility for "one drop of blood" following two fatal police assaults on sit-in camps of Morsi supporters. Violence will only produce more violence, he said, warning of the increased polarization of the Arab state.
"I saw that there were peaceful ways to end this clash in society, there were proposed and acceptable solutions for beginnings that would take us to national consensus," he wrote, according to Reuters. "It has become difficult for me to continue bearing responsibility for decisions that I do not agree with and whose consequences I fear. I cannot bear the responsibility for one drop of blood."
The White House strongly condemned the violence in Egypt, saying it will "only make it more difficult to move Egypt forward on a path to lasting stability and democracy," according to a statement released Wednesday. The administration calls on the new Egyptian authorities to allow their citizens to protest, among other "basic human rights."
"The world is watching what is happening in Cairo. We urge the government of Egypt – and all parties in Egypt – to refrain from violence and resolve their differences peacefully," the statement said.
The former vice president received a joint Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He also served as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nation's main nuclear regulatory body, which shared the prize.
Egyptian TV reported security officials moved in on protest camps earlier Wednesday with tear gas and armored personnel carriers. Al-Arabiya TV depicted images of clouds of smoke rising over the protest site.
At least 250 people have died in Egypt since Morsi was removed from power on July 3. The U.S. administration has so far refrained from classifying the incident a coup d'etat, despite criticism from some members of Congress.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., unsuccessfully attempted to cut the $1.5 billion in aid the U.S. gives to Egypt, which has long enjoyed robust military sales from the U.S.