Carter calls on US to accept Islamist political ascendancy in Egypt
Ahram Online, Thursday 19 Jan 2012
Former US president urges Washington not to repeat mistakes made following Hamas' parliamentary victory in 2006 Palestinian elections

Former US president Jimmy Carter on Wednesday called on the US government to respect the landslide electoral victory realised by Islamist parties in Egypt’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls so as to support democracy and political stability in the region.

Carter visited Egypt from 8 to 14 January, during which he met with representatives of major political parties, Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Prime Minister Kamal El-Gonzouri and political activists.

In an interview with American television news channel CNN, Carter criticised Washington’s condemnation in 2006 of democratically-conducted Palestinian legislative elections won by Palestinian resistance faction Hamas. Had Washington not rejected Hamas’ legitimate electoral victories, he asserted, a greater degree of political stability might have been achieved in the region in the almost six years since.

Carter went on to urge the US government not to repeat the same mistake vis-a-vis Egypt’s recently concluded parliamentary contest, in which the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party together secured more than 65 per cent of the vote.

Before departing Egypt, Carter – who had visited the country several times previously – said he had “enjoyed the remarkable new atmosphere of excitement, gratitude, free sharing of ideas and hopes for the future” that he had seen in post-revolution Egypt. “It is gratifying to be involved in these historic developments,” the former US president added.

Carter is head of the Carter Centre, a US-based NGO devoted to democracy promotion. He had been in Cairo to monitor the third and final round of parliamentary polling.