WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday voiced support for “free and fair” elections in Egypt but declined to wade into a debate over the disqualification of leading presidential candidates.
The election commission on Saturday barred 10 of the 23 registered candidates from the May 23-24 election, throwing into turmoil Egypt’s first presidential vote since last year’s uprising ousted US ally Hosni Mubarak.
“Our only concern is that this is a free and fair and transparent process, that it move forward in a way that meets the aspirations of the Egyptian people,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
“But it’s not for us to comment on the political process itself,” he said.
US statements could carry sensitivity in Egypt, where prosecutors in December raided the offices of US-funded democracy promotion groups. Authorities said they were probing illegal foreign funding, but critics accused the interim military leaders of trying to silence criticism.
Islamists from Egypt and other Arab countries recently visited Washington in an effort to dispel fears that they would restrict the rights of women and religious minorities if they win in post-Arab Spring free elections.