• April 9, 2008

US expresses concerns over Egyptian elections

US expresses concerns over Egyptian elections

The White House said Wednesday it was worried about reports of “widespread electoral violations” in Egyptian local elections, including a crackdown on opposition candidates and campaign workers.

“We continue to urge the Egyptian government to take tangible steps towards greater democracy, freedom, and political openness,” spokeswoman Dana Perino said in a statement about Tuesday”s contest.

Polls closed with little excitement Tuesday in the local elections, which were boycotted by the main opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and overshadowed by wage protests in which one teenager has died.

With the victory of the ruling party never in doubt after the disqualification of many opposition candidates, few Egyptians turned out to vote.

“The United States is concerned by reports that Egypt”s April 8 local council elections were characterized by widespread electoral violations,” said Perino.

“We have been troubled by the reports of harassment, detainment, and arrests of opposition candidates and campaign workers in the lead up to the elections, as well as the allegations that large numbers of opposition candidates were prevented from registering,” she said.

The vote was an easy win for President Hosni Mubarak”s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which put up a candidate for every one of the 52,000 council seats in play and launched a major crackdown against the opposition.

“We believe that the Egyptian people deserve the opportunity to peacefully express their views by means of the ballot box. They should not only be able to vote without fear of intimidation, but should also be able to choose freely from a variety of candidates,” said Perino.