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EU High Representative "concerned by reports of irregularities"

From its Brussels headquarters, EU criticizes the administration of Egyptian parliamentary elections.

Ahram online, Monday 6 Dec 2010
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"I was concerned by reports of irregularities, restricted access for independent observers and candidates' representatives into polling stations, media restrictions as well as arrests of opposition activists," said Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The statement was issued from the Brussels headquarters of the European Union, rather than the EU delegation in Cairo to avoid antagonising Egyptian authorities, as some European diplomats told Ahram Online.

According to the statement that was sent to Ahram Online via email, Ashton felt that the irregularities that marred the elections were not compatible with the assurances made earlier by the Egyptian government that had committed itself to the conduct of a fair and transparent elections.

Ashton called on the the Egyptian authorities to respond to concerns over the level of fairness and transparency of the elections and said that "the EU will continue to call on the Egyptian government to permit domestic and international monitors to observe future elections, and remains ready to offer assistance in that regard."

In her statement, Ashton made a point of underlining the strong relations between the EU and Egypt. She also stated that her statement is inspired by the democracy and human rights commitment undertaken by Egypt in cooperation agreement signed with the EU.

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