Having witnessed the parliamentary elections in January, I returned to Cairo with Rosalynn, John Hardman, David Carroll, and Avery Davis-Roberts for the election of a president. Our Carter Center team, including Field Office Director Sanne van den Bergh, has been present since November and will be here until the president is inaugurated and a new constitution approved. Compared to our previous 89 election missions, our role has been limited by late issuing of credentials and by other restraints that prevent our access to the news media, restrict time we can spend in each polling station, etc. As a result our mission covered only the voting and counting process, and could not assess the electoral process as a whole. We objected strongly but finally decided to participate because of the importance and complexity of this historic effort to establish a democratic government in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Salafists together hold an overwhelming majority in the parliament, while the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) still retains great authority, and the courts comprise a third strong role in making decisions in the unpredictable and fluid political arena.
After some prominent candidates had been disqualified by the PEC, there were 13 men remaining in the contest as of 5/21, including former Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa and former senior MB member Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh who were considered the leaders, while MB's Freedom and Justice Party head Mohammad Morsi and Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq had been gaining strength. Four other viable candidates were Hamdeen Sabahi, Khalid Ali, Hisham Bastawisi, and Abul-Ezz El-Hariri. Fragmented polls indicated an unpredictable result.
When we arrived in Cairo we learned that SCAF leaders had decided not to meet with any foreign visitors, so we spent Monday receiving briefings from experts about political issues and recent changes, met with our long-term and short-term observers, and then with Head of Parliament Saad Al-Katatny. He was former Secretary-General of MB's Peace and Justice Party. In answering my questions, he minimized the authority of SCAF to make changes in the existing constitution re presidential authority, etc., but had accepted some of their recent decisions about cabinet changes to avoid a divisive confrontation...
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Full report :