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Carter Center Statement on Egypt's Pre-election Environment

CONTACTS: Atlanta, Deborah Hakes +1 404 420 5124; Cairo, Sanne van den Bergh +20 1013511710

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In English

The Carter Center is greatly concerned about the ongoing violence at Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Egypt that has resulted in more than 30 casualties. As events continue to unfold, we urge the authorities to act with restraint and for all involved to continue to advance a meaningful democratic transition in Egypt through peaceful political participation and respect for the rule of law.

The upcoming parliamentary elections have the potential to be a milestone in the country's democratic transition, as the first multi-party elections since the departure of Hosni Mubarak. The elections will provide Egypt's citizens the opportunity to exercise their political rights by voting for representatives from a range of political parties, as well as individual candidates. It is essential that these rights be fulfilled in the context of a secure environment.

Voting is slated to take place across three regions on separate polling days (Nov. 28, 2011; Dec. 14, 2011; and Jan. 3, 2012) following a tightly compressed period of electoral preparations and the introduction of several major changes to the election legislation. With only seven days before the first polling day, The Carter Center offers the following preliminary observations in the spirit of support and respect for the Supreme Judicial Commission for Elections (SJCE) and the people of Egypt as the electoral process progresses. These observations are partial and preliminary, and are provided with the aim of identifying several areas where immediate steps could be taken before polling begins to increase confidence and transparency in the elections. As part of its longer-term mission, The Carter Center intends to issue additional statements at various points during the electoral process, including an overall assessment following the last round of People's Assembly elections in January.

While elections are an inherently sovereign process that reflects a country's unique culture, history, and politics, they must fulfill the civil and political rights of citizen electors as defined both by national laws and international commitments for democratic elections. To ensure that the parliamentary elections are genuinely competitive and democratic, several significant challenges should be addressed as soon as possible. Most importantly, The Carter Center recommends that steps be taken to protect democratic rights and freedoms that are central to open political discourse and competition, but which have been curtailed by the continuing State of Emergency and the by-passing of civilian courts, thereby challenging the possibility of an open, inclusive, and secure campaign environment and electoral process as a whole.

In addition, several other measures should be considered to increase voter information and to enhance transparency and public confidence. These include steps to increase voter information about electoral procedures and certain aspects of the electoral system, to clarify procedures for filing electoral complaints, to explain the roles of the military and police in providing for electoral security, and to facilitate the ability of observers or "witnesses"/"followers" to participate in the process.


"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; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. 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.

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