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Egyptian Authorities Deny Eight U.S. NGOs License To Operate

Egypt has banned eight U.S.-based non-governmental organizations from operating in the country.

State media reports quoting the Social Affairs Ministry said on April 24 that the licenses were denied because the groups' activities "breach the country's sovereignty."

The banned organizations include the Carter Center, founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, which monitored the parliamentary elections earlier this year, and was expected to monitor the presidential polls next month.

Analysts say the rejection of the Carter Center, which tries to ensure free and fair elections by observing votes around the world, raises doubts about whether Egypt's crucial ballot will be transparent.

The polls follow the ouster of authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak by a popular uprising last year.

In other news, Egyptian state media say the ruling military council has endorsed a law that bars top officials from Mubarak's 30-year rule from running for president.

It was unclear if the law passed recently by the Islamist-led parliament would take effect in time to block the presidential bid of Ahmed Shafiq, who was appointed prime minister in the last days of Mubarak's rule.

Shafiq has been criticized by both Islamists and liberals.

They see him as a military-backed leader who would roll back gains of the popular uprising that forced Mubarak to resign last year.

The election commission is expected to publish the final official list of candidates for the May 23-24 presidential election on April 26.

The commission has recently disqualified Mubarak's vice president, Omar Sulieman, and two top Islamist candidates from the race.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa