CAIRO: The Carter Center, an NGO promoting an end to “hunger, poverty, conflict and oppression” and founded by former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter, has decided to close its Egypt office due to what it described as a “deeply polarized” and “narrowed” political environment.
In a statement released Wednesday, the Carter Center said it will not be monitoring the upcoming parliamentary elections expected to take place by the end of the year either. “Both Egyptian civil society and international organizations face an increasingly restrictive environment that hinders their ability to conduct credible election observation,” the statement read.
“The current environment in Egypt is not conducive to genuine democratic elections and civic participation,” said Carter himself in the statement. “I hope that Egyptian authorities will reverse recent steps that limit the rights of association and assembly and restrict operations of Egyptian civil society groups.”
The statement added that there was a “crackdown” on oppositions groups, including journalists, associations and assemblies, and criticized restrictions on freedom of expression brought about by the 2013 Protest Law.
The center also criticized the new NGO Law, saying it was too similar to a similar law during the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, and maybe even stricter. The new law requires NGOs and charities to register with the government, and gives the government the right to close NGOS and replace and choose their boards of directors.
The Carter Center said that despite the fact it will not monitor parliamentary elections, it still calls on Egyptian authorities to create a proper environment for civil organizations, associations and civilians to monitor them to ensure they are conducted in-line with the Constitution. It also called for an end to the continuing crackdown on dissidents, journalists and opposition groups.
The Carter Center originally opened its Egypt office in 2011 following the January 25 Revolution.