The Carter Center, established by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, announced on Oct. 15, 2014, that it will close its office in Egypt due to government suppression of democratic rights and freedoms. (UPI/Jim Ruymen) | License Photo
ATLANTA, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- The Carter Center announced this week it will close its office in Egypt and cancel its planned monitoring of Egypt's parliamentary elections.
The Center cited the negative impact of Egypt's restrictive political environment on citizens' democratic rights and freedoms as the rationale in its decision.
"The current environment in Egypt is not conducive to genuine democratic elections and civic participation," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who founded the Center with Emory University to "enhance freedom and democracy."
Carter appealed to Egyptian officials to "reverse recent steps that limit the rights of association and assembly and restrict operations of Egyptian civil society groups."
Those steps, the Center outlined, should include an end to the government crackdown of dissident groups, activists, journalists, and opposition elements, including the Muslim Brotherhood. "The protest law should be lifted, and opposition parties should be able to participate openly and peacefully in political affairs," the Center said in a statement to the Egyptian government.
Earlier this month, the Egyptian government confiscated all copies of the independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm after it published a serialized interview with former Egyptian intelligence officer Refaat Jibril, who alleged that Egypt had traded spies back to Israel instead of executing them.
The confiscation of the newspapers came days after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the American television interviewer Charlie Rose that Egyptian censorship is a thing of the past.