Former US President Carter describes Egyptian women’s parliamentary share a 'disappointment'

Ahram Online, Saturday 14 Jan 2012

Former US President Jimmy Carter told a Cairo-based press conference Friday that too few women made it into Egypt's post-revolutionary parliament

Jimmy Carter (Photo: Reuters)

Former US President Jimmy Carter told a Cairo-based press conference Friday that women’s share of seats in Egypt’s incoming parliament was a disappointment.

“I see here in the results of the (parliamentary) election that women are deprived of an equal opportunity to serve in the government,” he said while presenting the Carter Centre's findings in the first post-revolution parliamentary ballot.

Women’s representation in the parliament will not exceed one per cent, Carter says. Therefore new measures have to be implemented to ensure that women would have “adequate involvement in the future political process.”

Egyptian law stipulates that each electoral list must include a certain percentage of women, but that did not guarantee them a fair share of seats, with some parties putting female candidates at the bottoms of their lists, such as the Salafist Al-Nour Party.

Apart from a negligible percentage of seats for women, Carter said the elections witnessed some irregularities spotted by a number of observers, the most frequent of which was the use of religious slogans, whether Islamic of Coptic.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and Al-Nour Party, the first and second biggest winners in the elections respectively, were both accused of using Islamic slogans to promote themselves.

The Free Egyptians Party, on the other hand, was linked to Copts and the church authority, having been founded by business tycoon Naguib Sawiris.

When asked about the peace treaty with Israel, Carter assured that Islamist parties would honour it. “All of the parties involved [in the elections] have expressed eagerness to continue with the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt,” Carter told reporters.

Carter, who was directly involved in the 1978 and 1979 Camp David Accords that led to Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, said the agreements had two parts: peace with Israel and the guarantee of Palestinian rights. About the first part, Carter said, “that part of the accords has been basically approved and honoured.” But, “the rights of Palestinians have been violated with sometimes tacit approval from Washington and also from Cairo,” Carter explained.

“All of the political parties and presidential candidates with whom I have met assured me that both aspects of the Camp David Accords will be honoured in the future.” “When I questioned the Salafists about this, they assured me they had no intention of rejecting the peace agreement,” Carter said.

Both Al-Nour Party and the Brotherhood’s FJP announced they would respect the Camp David Treaty.

In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

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