On the third day of Egypt’s presidential elections, international donors appear to be in a wait-and-see mode although there is a widespread consensus that regardless of the poll’s outcome, foreign aid will continue to flow.
International development groups in Egypt may be more concerned about the country’s ongoing instability than about the upcoming leadership change, which is all but certainly going to see former military commander Abdul Fattah al-Sisi assume the presidency.
Free and fair elections are “not our main concern” in this case, said Maha Nabil, communication and administration manager for the French Development Agency’s office in Cairo. Rather, it is the frequent changes in government which “can refrain our work,” she told Devex.
AFD is “totally neutral” and does “not interfere in politics,” she added.
The bilateral donor continued its work in Egypt after Mohammed Morsi’s ouster last July, and should continue to do so after this week's elections notwithstanding unforeseen circumstances, Nabil suggested.
In March, France signed an 80 million euro financing agreement with Egypt for a project focused on job creation and expressed its intention to conduct a study with the African Development Bank to identify further interventions in this area.
Other donors are expected to continue supporting Egypt as well — including the United States, a longtime ally.
Marc Sievers, the U.S. chargé d’affaires to Egypt, told the Egyptian news site Ahram Online last week: “Sometimes friends and partners have disagreements or misunderstandings. As partners, however, I believe the U.S. and Egypt must remain committed to working together to resolve those differences.”
Sievers continued: “The U.S. will work with Egypt’s democratically elected president, whichever of the candidates wins the election."
The United States recalled its ambassador to Cairo in August and suspended military assistance to Egypt in October — although U.S. economic assistance continued. Now the Obama administration is considering whether to lift part of its aid freeze, and it has nominated Robert Stephen Beecroft, its ambassador to Iraq, as the next ambassador to Egypt. Beecroft’s nomination still needs to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Despite widespread criticism and threats of aid suspensions, other donors also didn’t significantly alter their cooperation strategies last year. World Bank President Jim Kim, for instance, called for an immediate re-election at the time, but the institution did not cut assistance to the country.
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