UN to offer technical support for elections, short of monitoring

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By Noah Rayman

CAIRO: The United Nations will offer logistical support for Egypt’s fall elections but will not provide official monitoring services, said Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe at a press conference in Cairo Sunday.

Pascoe was in Egypt on a two-day trip at the behest of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Pascoe said UN election monitors require a formal invitation from the government and must be sanctioned by a Security Council vote. The last time the UN officially monitored elections was in 2001, when the organization was asked to certify elections in Cote D’Ivoire, he said.

But the UN has provided administrative support for more than 100 countries around the world.

“What we do is help with the technical parts of an election, which are totally nonpolitical,” Pascoe said. He added that election support can include details as particular as selecting the type of ballot and the type of ink to use on the ballot.

“We would like to be able to help, if we were asked, to make the elections as successful as they can be,” he said.

UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt James Rawley said the UN will continue to provide other services in Egypt as the nation transitions towards democracy.

Much of the UN’s work will be advisory, including technical support in governance and aiding efforts to reform the police forces and combat corruption.

Rawley also said the UN will continue programs to address Egyptian and Libyan refugees fleeing Libya to Egypt and will work with government and non-government organizations to expand support efforts in Upper Egypt.

Rawley said the UN is “responding to some of the needs and opportunities in democratic governance that have come up in the last few months.”

“The help from the UN comes without strings,” Pascoe said.

Pascoe, on his fourth visit to Egypt since the January protests, said that he hoped to meet with authorities, ministers and youth leaders, as well as representatives from the League of Arab States. He will visit Tunisia later this week.

“It is important we stay in close touch with that is going on here on the ground,” he said.

But arriving in Cairo in the midst of government reforms that include a Cabinet reshuffling, not all of his meetings went according to plan.

“This is not a great day to be meeting with ministers, as I think you all know,” Pascoe said. “But I completely understand. That’s the way politics works.”

Pascoe stressed that the UN will play only a supporting role in Egypt’s development.

“This is very much an Egyptian operation. It is up to them to figure out how far they want to go and how fast,” he said.

“We are willing to help and assist as much as it’s appreciated and wanted,” he said.


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