Egyptian presidential elections 'a significant step backwards for democracy'

By agency reporter
March 31, 2018

Following the recent presidential elections in Egypt, Transparency International has denounced the actions taken by the Egyptian government to supress critical election monitoring efforts which serve an essential role in ensuring transparency and accountability.

“This signals a significant retreat from critical democratic processes and undermines the principle of fair and clean elections which is the basis of democracy”, said Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International. “In an environment where crackdowns on civil society are the norm and activists and journalists risk their lives by speaking out, corruption continues to thrive in Egypt.”

In the last few years, Egyptian authorities significantly clamped down on activists, hampering the ability of civil society to provide proper election oversight and limiting overall accountability. While activists, journalists and civil society organisations are critical to anti-corruption efforts, Egypt, which scored 32 on the recent Corruption Perceptions Index, continues to experience a rapid decline in civil society engagement.

In fact, a recent report from Transparency International highlights how the Egyptian government methodically crushes public dissent, specifically targeting the media and civil society.

“Seven years ago, in response to rampant corruption across the country, citizens flooded the streets of Cairo to advocate for change, offering an image of hope and action for a new Egypt,” said Ferreira Rubio. “Sadly, that image is all but completely erased with recent events.”

In May 2016, a draconian law targeting civil society approved by Parliament and signed by President President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2017, provided unprecedented authority to stifle civil society and restrict its rights to freedom of expression and association, including through digital and social media. Specifically, the law curbs the ability of CSOs to collect funding and puts staff at risk of licence removal, severe fines and prison sentences if they do not comply.   

Not surprisingly, given this atmosphere, Egyptians take a dim view of their country’s efforts to fight corruption. According to a 2016 survey by Transparency International, 53 per cent of Egyptians believe the court system is corrupt, while 43 per cent believe the same of police.

Transparency International has called on the Egyptian government to reverse its position on civil society and protect the rights of journalists and activists in speaking out against corruption. In addition, it call on the independent Administrative Control Authority to fulfil its mandate and investigate cases brought by media that affect the electoral process or abuse of power, including forced withdrawal of opposition candidates and allegations of vote buying. 

* Transparency International https://www.transparency.org/

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