July 21, 2011
International Election Monitors Vital to Egypt’s Democratic Transition
Washington, DC—Human Rights First is concerned that the Egyptian government has reverted to the policy of the discredited Mubarak regime and stated its opposition to international election monitors. General Mamdouh Shahin, spokesperson of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which is currently in charge of the Egyptian government, said on July 20 that only Egyptians will be permitted to carry out election monitoring for the forthcoming parliamentary elections, now scheduled for November. “Egypt’s parliamentary elections are a great opportunity to demonstrate that the country is moving forward on a new democratic course,” said Neil Hicks of Human Rights First. “It would be a big mistake for the military council to exclude international monitors who would play an important role in validating the outcome of the elections and building support for Egypt’s democratic transition among Egyptians themselves and from the international community,” added Hicks. The monitoring of elections by international observers is an increasingly common practice in many countries around the world, including in the Arab world. In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York last September, President Obama called on all governments to invite international monitors to observe their elections. President Obama and the U.S. government should urge the military council to reconsider its opposition to international election monitors and welcome this valuable assistance to the democratic transition the SCAF claims to support.