The Camp David Accords of 1978 leading to a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel were a major achievement of the Carter administration. President Carter has continued his deep interest in Middle East peace since leaving the White House, and The Carter Center has closely followed events in the region — including witnessing Egypt's parliamentary and presidential elections in 2011 and 2012.
Following the January 2011 revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, The Carter Center established a field office in Cairo to observe the 2011-2012 parliamentary and 2012 presidential elections. From November 2011 to January 2012, the Center deployed 40 observers, allowing assessment in every governorate for all three phases of voting in the People's Assembly elections. The Center's observers remained in 21 of 27 governorates for Shura Council elections, which were held in January and February 2012. The mission concluded that the People's Assembly elections took place in a restrictive environment but broadly represented the will of the people and marked a positive step in Egypt's democratic development. The Shura Council elections attracted limited public engagement.
The Carter Center deployed 102 observers for the presidential elections held May 23-24, 2012, and 90 observers for the presidential runoff, held June 16-17, 2012. President Carter and former Yemeni Prime Minister Abdul Karim Al-Eryani led the first-round delegation, and former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher led the runoff mission with Georgia (U.S.) legislator Jason Carter.
These presidential elections marked the first time in the country's history that the Egyptian people chose their head of state in a direct competitive election. Because of late accreditation and other restrictions placed on observers, the Center's mission was limited, focusing only on polling, counting, and tabulation. Despite public uncertainty regarding the transition, the Center found that the electoral process was peaceful and orderly and marked by a sense of hope.
The Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved the newly elected People's Assembly in June 2012, just before presidential election results were announced. Carter Center experts remained in Egypt to assess the constitution-drafting process and preparations for new parliamentary elections. The Center decided not to deploy observers for the December 2012 constitutional referendum because of the late release of accreditation regulations. Instead, a small team of experts conducted a limited technical assessment of the process.
The Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013, and announced a new transition roadmap. Amidst an increasingly polarized political environment and serious human rights abuses, the Center decided not to observe the January 2014 referendum on a new constitution drafted in the fall of 2013. Instead, the Center deployed a small team of experts to assess both the broader political process and the text of the new constitution. The Carter Center again deployed only a small team of experts around the May 2014 presidential elections because of the worsening human rights situation and exclusion of key actors from the political process.
The Center maintained a presence in Cairo until October 2014, when the highly restrictive political environment and crackdown on civil society organizations led to the decision to close its field office.
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Size: 1,001,450 square kilometers
Population below poverty line: 25 percent
Life expectancy: 74 years
Ethnic groups: Egyptian, other
Religions: Muslim (mostly Sunni), Coptic, other Christian
Languages: Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes
(Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2015)