Tuesday, 16 November 2010

US calls on Egypt to allow foreign election monitors

The US has called on Egypt to allow foreign election monitors for its 28th November parliamentary elections and greater freedoms in regard to political gatherings and media coverage. In the past, Egypt has perennially refused to allow international monitors into the country, saying it does not need external supervision when it comes to its political proceedings.

Speaking about the lack of freedoms within Egypt, opposition leader George Ishaq said, “they say this and then we know what happened and what will happen,” adding that the Egyptian elections are “the farthest thing from free and if anyone believes the government they are mistaken.”

In view of past elections and recent censures of the country's largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the international community has expressed concern about the bias nature of the Egyptian election process and the integrity of the vote set to take place at the end of the month.

The Egyptian government has recently arrested dozens of MB members and has periodically restricted media coverage of opposition campaigns. The US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley recently issued a statement saying, “An open electoral process would include a credible and impartial mechanism for reviewing election-related complaints, a domestic election observation effort according to international standards, and the presence of international observers.”

The government said it would allow local civil society groups to monitor the parliamentary elections, but Ishaq and other critics think these measures are simply not enough to ensure a fair election. As opposition activists in Cairo continually push for greater freedoms and a change in how government functions, they have called on president Barack Obama to follow his June 2009 speech in Cairo with action.

“We want Obama to stand for us disenfranchised people, but right now he is just giving lip service to us because they don't want to ruin their relationship with the government,” said another activist Reda Hamza.

Source: Bikya Masr

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

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