Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was officially declared the winner of Egypt's first contested presidential election. Mr. Mubarak has ruled Egypt since 1981. He won a six-year term with eighty-eight percent of the vote.
His main rival was Ayman Nour of the Al-Ghad [Tomorrow] Party. Mr. Nour won seven-and-a-half percent of the vote. Wafd Party candidate Noman Gomaa came in third, with just under three percent. Voter turnout was low – only twenty-three percent – and opposition parties and independent observers complained of widespread abuses, mainly by Mr. Mubarak's National Democratic Party.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in a statement that Egypt's first multi-candidate presidential election marked "an important step toward holding fully free and fair competitive multiparty elections." U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement that the presidential election represented "one step in the march towards the full democracy that the Egyptian people desire and deserve." But she also said that more should be done in the future to increase the Egyptian people's "confidence in the democratic process."
Among the steps that Egypt's government should take to increase the credibility of future elections is to allow the presence of international monitors with full and timely access to polling stations. And no election can be considered fair if candidates are denied equal access to the media. The Egyptian government would also have to do more to protect voters against intimidation and violence.
Earlier this year, pro-opposition demonstrators were beaten by pro-government mobs. U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said that the Egyptian government should work to improve the country's electoral system before the parliamentary elections scheduled for November:
"The parliamentary elections in November are an opportunity to address those issues - issues that deal with presence of monitors, the access of monitors to polling stations. . . .broader access to media by opposition. And basically working to make sure that Egypt's elections are fully consistent with internationally recognized processes for other international elections."
The United States, said Mr. Ereli, will move forward with Egypt as a friend and a common supporter of democratic goals.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.