News / Africa

Former US Ambassador Calls for International Monitors for Egypt's Election

Edward Walker, former US Ambassador to Egypt
Edward Walker, former US Ambassador to Egypt

A former U.S. ambassador to Egypt has called for international monitors in upcoming parliamentary elections, saying the Egyptian government needs more transparency.

Edward Walker Tuesday echoed an earlier call by the U.S. government for the observers.  He said the November 28 parliamentary elections need international oversight.  Walker spoke in a panel discussion at Voice of America's Washington headquarters, hosted by VOA's English for the Middle East service.

But Egyptian Press and Information Office director Karim Haggag rejected the call for international monitors.  He told the audience that Egypt has a system of judges and other safeguards in place to monitor the fairness of elections.  He said the government has issued guidelines to candidates for free and fair coverage.

Egypt has come under international criticism for its election process.  Human rights groups have criticized Egypt's rights record, saying Egyptian authorities use force against political opponents and voters to keep President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic party in power.

Ambassador Walker said Egypt must work to ensure that candidates have the freedom to campaign and are not denied access to the media.

On Monday, the U.S. State Department said Egypt should allow peaceful political gatherings, open media coverage and international observers in the run-up to the parliamentary elections.  Spokesman P.J. Crowley called on Egypt to ensure the presence of international election observers and what he called a "credible and impartial mechanism for reviewing election-related complaints."

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