Monday, February 13, 2006

Running Scared

President Mubarak made a surprise announcement today delaying local elections for two years. This is not a move he would have made had he felt comfortable in the NDP's electoral strength. Nevertheless, it's a unsurprising sign that he plans to step back from the promises of reform and democracy he made during last year's presidential campaign.

This is an act that should bring an immediate and strong outcry. It's already coming from Egyptian activists, and we should join them. Since the presidential election, Mubarak's regime has:

* assaulted peaceful demonstrators against the war on Iraq

* assaulted supporters of the Muslim Brothers and other political opponents


* arrested and convicted on politically motivated charges Ayman Nour, the man who came in second place to him

* prevented independent oversight of the national parliamentary elections

* killed at least eight voters and injured at least 10 more in police violence at voting sites.

This is all in addition to the routine torture, abuse of administrative detention and restrictions on civil society and legitimate political activity that marks the Mubarak regime.

The reaction is coming in swiftly. Islamists are crying foul, says the Agence France Press. "The NDP and government are afraid of losing their influence to the Islamists in the municipal elections. They are afraid because Egyptians know that there is an alternative," says a member of the Muslim Brothers.

NGOs are also speaking out.
"The government is not ready now for the election, and they are not ready because they are afraid to be defeated or lose badly, like they did in the parliamentary election," said Nasser Amin, director of the Arab Center for Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession.


I urge everyone in the United States to contact Egyptian ambassador Nabil Fahmy to express displeasure over the regime's actions and it's reneging on its promise on the democracy and human rights that Egyptians are clamoring for.

Ambassador Fahmy can be written at
The Arab Republic of Egypt. 3521 International Court, NW, Washington DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 895 5400 Fax: (202) 244-4319 E-mail: embassy@egyptembdc.org


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