FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 6, 2014
CONTACTS: Atlanta, Deborah Hakes +1 404 420 5124
Cairo, Alessandro Parziale +20 1028890663
Carter Center Urges Inclusive Constitutional Reform Process and Increased Political Space Ahead of Egypt's Referendum
On Jan. 14-15, Egyptians will go to the polls to vote on constitutional arrangements for the third time in less than three years. While The Carter Center supports the strong desire of Egyptians to move forward with a transition to an elected civilian government, the Center is deeply concerned about the polarized environment and the narrowed political space surrounding the upcoming referendum, as well as the lack of an inclusive process for drafting and publicly debating the draft constitution.
Despite these concerns, it is clear that many Egyptians view the constitutional referendum as an important opportunity to voice their opinion about the transition roadmap and the way forward. To increase the credibility of this process, the Center recommends that Egyptian authorities reverse the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition activists and rescind the recently enacted protest law that severely restricts public gatherings and rallies, including for electoral campaigning. Restrictions on media outlets sympathetic to Islamists also should be lifted. While the fundamental freedoms of association and expression must be protected, it also is essential for all Egyptians to refrain from acts of violence, incitement, and intimidation, and that security forces refrain from the use of excessive force in the event of disturbances.
The Center also recommends that Egyptian authorities provide clear information about the parameters of the referendum, including what results or thresholds will constitute approval as well as what will happen if the referendum fails. Further, the Center recommends the publication of rules to regulate campaign activities and spending, full access to all phases of the electoral process for all interested Egyptian citizen observer groups and party agents, and the implementation of procedural improvements identified in recent elections to safeguard the integrity of the polling process.
Most importantly, Egyptians should ensure that after the referendum is completed, genuine steps are taken to initiate and sustain an inclusive and meaningful dialogue on additional constitutional reforms and a broadly accepted framework for future elections.
The Carter Center has deployed election witnesses for most of Egypt's recent electoral processes, including the 2011-2012 parliamentary elections and the 2012 presidential elections. For the current constitutional referendum process, the Center deployed a small expert mission focusing on the broader legal and political context of the ongoing transition. The Center requested and the Supreme Commission for Elections approved accreditations for a maximum of 10 international witnesses to carry out this work. Given its size, the Center's mission will not focus on witnessing voting procedures on referendum day. The Carter Center's electoral assessment and observation activities around the world are implemented in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, which establishes guidelines for professional and impartial election observation. Read the full statement (PDF) >
"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope." A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.
1 Law No.107/2013.