FORMER US PRESIDENT CARTER ‘CONCERNED’ OVER EGYPT

CAIRO, Egypt, May 19- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has warned Egypt, that its transition to democracy, after years of political turmoil is faltering, ahead of presidential elections later this month.

His Carter Centre won’t be sending observers for Egypt’s May 26-27 election, which many believe, retired Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi handily will win, following the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last year, that he led. However, the centre will be sending a small team of experts.

In a statement, the centre warned that “Egypt’s political transition has stalled and stands on the precipice of total reversal.” The centre said, Morsi’s overthrow deepened the political unrest in the country. The military-backed interim government has declared Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group a terrorist organisation, as hundreds of its followers have been killed and thousands have been arrested.

“I am gravely concerned that Egypt’s democratic transition has faltered,” Carter said in the statement.

El-Sissi will face leftist Hamdeen Sabahi in the election, but his win seems assured as the retired army leader is riding a wave of nationalistic fervour, following the July 3 overthrow. A Brotherhood-led coalition says, it will boycott the election.

Nearly 210,000 expatriates already have cast their ballots in Egyptian embassies and consulates around the world and voting will be extended for a fifth day, election commission head, Abdel-Aziz Salman, said.

Carter called on Egypt’s next president, to take immediate steps to foster dialogue and political accommodation “to ensure that the full spectrum of Egyptian society can participate meaningfully in politics.”

The Carter Centre observed Egypt’s parliamentary and presidential elections in 2012, the polls that saw Morsi come to power as the country’s first freely elected president. However, the Atlanta-based nonprofit organisation did not send monitors for Egypt’s last two elections, both polls on the constitution. It cited the government’s late release of monitoring regulations as its reason for not monitoring the constitutional vote under Morsi.

The European Union announced that its election observers only will observe polling stations in Cairo, after not being able to meet its own requirements to observe elsewhere.

As president, Carter oversaw negotiations in the late 1970’s, that led to Israel and Egypt signing their longstanding peace accords, following wars between the neighbouring nations. The Carter Centre, which he founded with his wife, has been monitoring Egypt closely, since the 2011 revolt against autocrat Hosni Mubarak.– NNN-MENA