White House concerned about Egyptian vote

The White House on Wednesday expressed “concerns” over voting practices in Egypt after former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi rolled to victory in the nation’s presidential contest with a reported 96.9 percent of the vote.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. shared “concerns raised by observation groups about the restrictive political environment in which this election took place.”

“We have consistently expressed our concerns about limits on freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression and call upon the government to ensure these freedoms as well as due process rights for all Egyptians,” he said. “As Egypt looks toward parliamentary elections later this year, we urge the government to consider the recommendations of the observer groups on ways to improve the administration of future elections.”

Allies of Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president who was toppled by the military last year, boycotted the polls. The Obama administration pointedly refused to call the ouster of Morsi, who was democratically elected but whose policies inspired mass protests in Cairo, a coup. That allowed the U.S. to continue providing Egypt with military aid.

Carney went on to urge Sisi to “adopt the reforms that are needed to govern with accountability and transparency, ensure justice for every individual, and demonstrate a commitment to the protection of the universal rights of all Egyptians.”

But the White House spokesman also said President Obama would call Sisi in the “coming days,” in a gesture that symbolically legitimizes Sisi’s rule.

“The United States looks forward to working with Abdelfattah al-Sisi, the winner of Egypt's presidential election, to advance our strategic partnership and the many interests shared by the United States and Egypt,” Carney said.