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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid