CAIRO: Egypt has told the U.S.-based International Republican Institute (IRI) to stop its activities in Egypt, saying comments by its representative were interfering in the country s internal affairs. The Foreign Ministry said on Sunday it had summoned country director Gina London and told her to suspend all activities until the organization, which monitors political systems abroad and promotes multi-party politics, receives a permit.
Two weeks ago, IRI released a second report concerning the political nature of opposition parties in the country, excluding the Muslim Brotherhood. The report was designed to help give parties an idea of what is and isn’t working in the country.
The IRI also gives training to organizations in order to spread democracy and political activism. Just last week, IRI held a training session for Iraqi women in Cairo, which was designed to help promote NGO’s for women in the war-torn nation. The ministry statement said London s comments to an Egyptian newspaper, in which she said political reform in Egypt had not been achieved in the past 25 years, were flagrant interference in Egypt s affairs. In the interview with the Nahdet Masr daily on Saturday, she also said the institute could greatly speed up the democratization process. It has been in talks with a number of Egyptian political parties in four provinces to provide them with training and information to help them engage in multiparty politics. London told the paper the institute had not yet finished the paperwork for licensing. She said she was convinced she had not broken any law, and that the Egyptian and U.S. governments had signed agreements letting groups funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development operate without prior permission. But the ministry statement denied that the IRI could operate in Egypt without obtaining a license, and denied that the institute had ever officially applied for licensing. The IRI s Web site describes it as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing democracy worldwide . It conducted an election assessment mission during the second round of voting in Egypt s parliamentary elections in November last year. The Egyptian government refused to cooperate with foreign monitoring of the elections.
The organization was founded in 1983, following a speech by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan in which he proposed a broad objective of helping countries build the infrastructure of democracy.
The move by the Egyptian government comes after U.S. Congress debated harshly the aid package being given to Egypt. Egypt receives the second highest total of U.S. aid, next to Israel.