CAIRO – Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is warning Egypt that its transition to democracy after years of political turmoil is faltering ahead of presidential elections later this month.
His Carter Center 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 center will be sending a small team of experts.
In a statement Friday, the center warned that "Egypt's political transition has stalled and stands on the precipice of total reversal." The center 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 organization, 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 fervor following the July 3 overthrow. A Brotherhood-led coalition says it will boycott the election.
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 Center 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 organization 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.
As president, Carter oversaw negotiations in the late 1970s that led to Israel and Egypt signing their longstanding peace accords following wars between the neighboring nations. The Carter Center, which he founded with his wife, has been monitoring Egypt closely since the 2011 revolt against autocrat Hosni Mubarak.