File photo: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kathmandu April 1, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
The US-based Carter Center issued a press release on 6 January on Egypt's upcoming constitutional referendum, supporting the "strong desire of Egyptians to move forward with a transition to an elected civilian government."
The center, led by former US president Jimmy Carter, expressed concern about the "polarized environment and the narrowed political space" and the "lack of an inclusive process for drafting and publicly debating the draft constitution."
"Despite these concerns, it is clear that many Egyptians view the constitutional referendum as an important opportunity to voice their opinion about the transition roadmap and the way forward," the center said ahead of the referendum on the recently-amended 2012 constitution on 14-15 January.
The 11-page statement recommended the adoption of measures to increase the "credibility of the process," such as the reversal of the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and opposition activists, along with the rescinding a controversial protest law.
The statement said that the recently-announced law "severely restricts public gatherings and rallies, including for electoral campaigning...restrictions on media outlets sympathetic to Islamists also should be lifted," it said.
The center, which has monitored elections in several parts of the world, called Egypt to provide clear information about the referendum's "parameters" such as what will happen if it fails.
"The Center recommends the publication of rules to regulate campaign activities and spending, full access to all phases of the electoral process for all interested Egyptian citizen observer groups and party agents, and the implementation of procedural improvements identified in recent elections to safeguard the integrity of the polling process."
On the other hand, the center called Egyptians to ensure that "genuine steps" are taken to launch an "inclusive and meaningful dialogue" on further constitutional reforms and a broadly accepted framework for future elections.
The report called the Egyptian people and authorities to refrain from violence.
The Carter Center received accreditations from the Supreme Commission for Elections for a maximum of ten international observers to carry out this work, the report said, referring to earlier electoral supervision missions in Egypt such as the 2011-2012 legislative elections and 2012 presidential polls.