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Egypt's foreign ministry 'surprised' by Carter Center decision to close Cairo offices

Egyptian authorities are questioning the 'motives and goals' of the Carter Center

Ahram Online, Thursday 16 Oct 2014
Carter
Former US president Jimmy Carter and his observatory center welcomed at a polling station during Egypt`s presidential elections on May 23,2012 (Photo: D. Hakes/The Carter Center)
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Egypt’s foreign ministry said Thursday it was “surprised” by the decision of the Carter Center to close its offices in Cairo.

“The center's claims contradict the official letter of the center’s regional director in August 31, thanking the Egyptian authorities for cooperation with the center during the past three years…easing its mission in observing the (elections),” the foreign ministry said in a statement on its official Facebook page.

“This contradiction reflects a double-standard strategy,” the ministry said, adding that the official August letter said the closure would be out of “pure logistical considerations.”

The Carter Center had closed its Egypt office saying the country is "unlikely to advance a genuine democratic transition."

The organisation criticised in a statement Wednesday Egypt's draft NGO law, saying it would put harsh restrictions on NGO activities and resources in Egypt, saying it would "more vigorously" bring back restrictions imposed during the rule of toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak and "undermine key rights enshrined in the new constitution.”

"I hope that Egyptian authorities will reverse recent steps that limit the rights of association and assembly and restrict operations of Egyptian civil society groups," former US President Jimmy Carter said.

In response, the foreign ministry said the center’s statement included “wrong conclusions and impartial assessment” that were “lacking accuracy.”

The foreign ministry said the Carter Center’s statement “raises doubts about the motives and goals of those who may be disturbed by the climate of stability the country is approaching day after the other.”

The organisation, whose Egypt office opened in 2011 following the 25 January uprising, said it would not deploy an observation mission to monitor the country's upcoming parliamentary elections.

Egypt has undergone two polls since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July of 2013, one on a new constitution in January 2014 and another on a new president in May 2014 which brought Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to power. A third vote on parliamentary representatives is expected by the end of the year.

Egyptian authorities have hailed the international recognition given to these two last polls as many regional and international organisations observed voting procedures.

The Carter Center sent a small expert mission that focused on general legal and political issues during those polls. 

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