The top United Nations political official today wrapped up a four-day visit to Tunisia and Egypt, where he discussed the two North African countries’ democratic transitions just months after they underwent revolutions that toppled long-standing regimes.
B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told officials in Tunis today that the UN and the international community are watching the country’s transition with great interest.
“Tunisia is the vanguard of democratic transition in North Africa and the Middle East and thus it is in all of our interest to help it succeed,” he said.
Acknowledging that the transition will take time and require patience from the population, Mr. Pascoe voiced confidence that Tunisians will be able to conduct credible elections that are scheduled for October.
He added that the UN had made available some of its best electoral experts to assist Tunisia in the staging of the polls.
In Egypt, where he met with Government officials, political party leaders, youth representatives, candidates for upcoming elections and UN staff, Mr. Pascoe expressed confidence that the transition process will move forward in that country as well.
The Under-Secretary-General confirmed that the UN has offered Egypt technical and logistical assistance to help carry out elections later this year.
But he also emphasized that Egypt’s democratic transition is a nationally-owned and led process.
“This is very much an Egyptian operation. It is up to them to figure out how far they want to go and how fast. We are willing to help and assist as much as it’s appreciated and wanted.”
Mr. Pascoe heads the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA), whose tasks include overseeing the provision of UN electoral assistance. At least 100 countries have received such help in the past two decades.