News / USA

Egyptian-Americans Seek More Open Democracy in Egypt

Electoral workers count ballots at a counting center, after polls closed in the Abdeen neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt, 28 Nov 2010
Electoral workers count ballots at a counting center, after polls closed in the Abdeen neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt, 28 Nov 2010
Mohamed Elshinnawi

Results from the latest round of Egypt's parliamentary elections are due on Tuesday, but already Egyptian-Americans are saying another chance has been lost for a more open democracy in their former homeland. The pessimism comes after two rounds of balloting - the first in late November and the second this past Sunday - both highlighted by widespread allegations of voter harassment and vote count irregularities.

The first round of the Egyptian parliamentary elections resulted in a landslide victory for President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party, with the opposition candidates winning the smallest number of seats in 20 years. Egyptian election observers reported widespread allegations of vote rigging and intimidation of opposition candidates.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the United States was dismayed by reports of election irregularities. "We believe that the elections fell short of the expectations that the Egyptian people have for what they want to see in terms of open political process, a chance to play a more significant role in the future of their country and a chance to participate more fully in the political process," he said.

The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition movement, Mohammed Badie talks during a conference on the 2010 Parliamentary Elections, in Cairo, 09 Nov 2010
The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition movement, Mohammed Badie talks during a conference on the 2010 Parliamentary Elections, in Cairo, 09 Nov 2010

Egyptian election officials had disqualified the popular Muslim Brotherhood, a party that won 20 percent of the parliament seats in 2005, and also Al Wafd, the oldest liberal party in Egypt. Both parties boycotted the runoff elections this past Sunday. Even so, Egyptian government officials have rejected claims of election bias, and Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif went further, describing the parliamentary balloting as the best in Egypt's history.

'Throwback'

Michele Dunne is Editor-in -Chief of the Arab Reform Bulletin at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

"What this is going to mean is a throwback to the kind of parliament that Egypt had, frankly, 20 years ago, like in 1990 for example, when the opposition boycotted the elections, so there were only a few opposition representatives. I think that the people's assembly that we will now see is going to enjoy very little legitimacy in the eyes of Egyptians," he said.

An Egyptian woman walks under electoral posters supporting the ruling National Party with a picture of Gamal Mubarak, son of President Hosni Mubarak, in Alexandria, 27 Nov 2010
An Egyptian woman walks under electoral posters supporting the ruling National Party with a picture of Gamal Mubarak, son of President Hosni Mubarak, in Alexandria, 27 Nov 2010

Dunne says Egypt's ruling party appears to be setting the stage for next year's scheduled presidential elections. President Mubarak is 82-years-old and has held office for almost three decades. He is believed to be grooming his son, Gamal, to succeed him - a move expected to spark widespread opposition.

Egyptian-American activist Nadine Wahab is a board member of the pro-democracy Egyptian Association for Change. She says the irregularities reported in the latest parliamentary voting could spur Egypt's opposition to work harder in next year's presidential campaigning.

"I do think it will impact next year's presidential elections," said Wahab. "But I also think that with the protests in the lead up to it, and with the outcry of post elections and the articles and some of the organizing that is happening it could be a tipping point for activists and regular Egyptians to begin to realize the importance of a free and democratic Egypt and to be able to call for reform and push for reform that would allow for a free and fair elections."

Calls for political reform

Ayman Adhair runs a management and technology consulting business in the state of Virginia just outside Washington D.C. He agrees that the latest problems with the Egyptian election process could result in more insistent demands for political reform. Adhair is especially hopeful that civic groups and the society at large in Egypt get involved in seeking political reform.

"These groups -- whether they are non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, the media, and parents at home -- need to work in tandem to accelerate such a process. It is not just one person, or one group or one party but it is the whole community that need to work together to achieve this," said Adhair.

As for the U.S. role in helping democracy in Egypt, Adhair believes that rather than stepping up pressure on the Egyptian government, the Obama administration should be helping the Egyptian people by training civil society organizations and encouraging improvements in Egyptian government transparency.

An alliance of Egyptian-American activist groups is pushing for a court decision in Egypt to allow Egyptian-Americans and some 7 million other Egyptian expatriates to vote in next year's presidential elections. If that request is granted, proponents believe they could have a major impact on the outcome and prevent a replay of the recent parliamentary elections.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs