Egyptian airport officials release EU elections monitoring equipment

Ahram Online, Sunday 18 May 2014

The European Union says it won't officially monitor Egypt's presidential elections, as certain conditions have not been met in the country

Cairo airport
Cairo airport (Photo: Reuters)

A shipment of communication equipment that was supposed to be used by the European Union to observe Egypt's 2014 presidential elections was allowed to enter the country on Sunday following at least two weeks of being held at Cairo's airport.

Hassan Ali, an official from the airport's customs authority, told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website that the equipment first arrived in late April and had been held ever since while awaiting a request of release from the shipping company.

He explained that the customs authority did not refuse the equipment's entrance.

"The shipping company only requested the release of the equipment yesterday [Saturday]," said Ali, adding that such equipment needs a permit from the communication ministry.

After the permit was provided, the equipment was unconditionally released, Ali said.

On Saturday, the EU announced that it will no longer observe the upcoming presidential race in Egypt as certain conditions necessary for the job have not been met.

A European source explained to AFP at the time that the observers were meant to be deployed throughout Egypt, but that "it proved impossible to have the telecommunication equipment and medical kits essential to ensure the security and safety of observers released on time".

"It is now too late for the long term observers to conduct a meaningful observation," said the source.

The EU will, however, send a team with a "more limited nature and scope of elections' observation, restricted only to Cairo".

Egypt's presidential elections are taking place on 26-27 May and will feature just two candidates: former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabahi.

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