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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid