CAIRO: The European Union announced it would monitor Egypt’s presidential elections on Sunday, after initially stating on Saturday that it would only send observers due to problems with obtaining authorization from Egyptian authorities to use their equipment.
On Saturday, Egyptian media reported that the EU was refraining from deploying monitors because Egyptian authorities had not allowed equipment and medical kits into the country.
But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release on Sunday evening confirming that the issues had been solved, and the pending equipment will be allowed to be used by the EU delegation that was planning to monitor the elections.
According to the ministry statement, spokesperson Badr Abdel Atty said members of the EU monitoring delegation have arrived in Egypt and have began setting up their equipment.
Mario David, head of the EU delegation, met with the High Presidential Elections Commission and with the two presidential candidates on Sunday, who both said they were keen on having the EU perform its monitoring mission, as agreed in a protocol signed with Egypt last April.
The presidential campaign for candidate Abdel Fatah al-Sisi reported that David expressed his wishes for the smooth running of the EU’s monitoring process during a meeting with Sisi.
Rival presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi also received David on Sunday morning, expressing his regret over the EU’s initial withdrawal from the monitoring process.
Sabbahi intervened in the crisis by calling the HPEC’s Secretary-General to discuss the obstacles faced by the delegation, Sabbahi’s official campaign reported on Sunday.
The Carter Center, which is also observing the elections, had issued a press release on Saturday expressing concerns over the political atmosphere surrounding the elections.
“The Carter Center is concerned about the restrictive political and legal context surrounding Egypt’s electoral process, the lack of a genuinely competitive campaign environment, and the deep political polarization that threatens the country’s transition as the May 26-27 presidential elections quickly approach,” read the statement, dated May 16.
H.A Hellyer, a British expert in Arab politics and Muslim-West relations, tweeted on Saturday: “The reasons for the EU reconsidering deploying have nothing to do with the Carter Center’s concerns. Completely coincidental.”
David will host a press conference on Monday morning to clarify the situation.