Egypt has now denied licenses to eight U.S.-based non-profit groups to operate in the country. They state they are violating the country's sovereignty.
An Egyptian minister said on Monday that this will include a center headed by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter which monitors elections, the Carter Center for Human Rights. Also included is Seeds of Peace, a Christian group The Coptic Orphans and others. The minister spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to brief the media.
Sanne van den Bergh of The Carter Center in Egypt, stated that the group had applied for a permit in October but has not yet received formal notification of the decision: "At the moment we haven't been informed that we've been rejected," she said, adding that the center will decide on its next steps after notification.
Egypt is concerned that foreign government-based NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are really agents for their sponsors and not independent action groups.
Authorities have warned that should the NGOs attempt to work without a license, Cairo would “take relevant measures”.
This move comes just a month ahead of presidential elections on May 23, the first since the removal of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak 14 months ago. Local media are speculating that this rejection may be temporary and that licenses could be granted after the elections.
The move to deny licenses to NGOs revives a crackdown by Egyptian authorities which provoked a serious diplomatic row with long-term ally, the U.S.A. In late December 2011 security forces raided the offices of a number of NGO groups suspected of receiving money in violation of Egyptian legislation.
In February 43 people were charged with instilling dissent and interfering in domestic policies following the mass protests last year, which resulted in the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. Among those charged were citizens of Germany, Norway, Jordan, Serbia and the U.S.