Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., in a 2009 file photo. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo
WASHINGTON, May 25 (UPI) -- Washington is called on to engage the Egyptian government to make sure elections in the country are free and fair, U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold said.
Feingold, D-Wis., in a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the May 11 extension by Cairo of an emergency law enacted after the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
"Emergency laws, if they are ever appropriate, are intended for exceptional circumstances, not continuous application for decades," said Feingold.
The formal extension removes measures regarding telephone surveillance, media censorship and the use of public space. It extends, however, the power to detain suspected terrorists and other security protections.
U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said the decision to extend the measure was "regrettable." Feingold, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, said he was pleased the Obama administration condemned the extension.
Egypt, however, should expand public engagement, Feingold said, noting that suppression feeds radicalism.
"The Obama administration should begin engaging now with the Egyptian government and other stakeholders to make clear that we support a fair, free and peaceful process," he concluded.
Egypt has parliamentary votes this year. Presidential elections are scheduled for 2011.