MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

January 12, 2016
Egyptian police forces deployed near the border with Libya have been put on a high state of alert following airstrikes on Libyan soil by unidentified fighter jets late Sunday. Hesham Lotfi, the head of the security department in the governorate of Matrouh, the closest Egyptian province to Libya, said police are seeking to secure Egypt's territory around the border, rather than the actual borders, which is a job for the army. Unconfirmed reports said that unknown aircraft had struck Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) strongholds near the Libyan city of Sirte early Monday. [AMAY, 1/11/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Sudan Foreign Minister says Sudan is not intermediary between Egypt, Ethiopia in GERD issue | DNE
  • Egypt's Sisi discusses Ethiopian dam with defense, irrigation ministers | Ahram Online
  • Sisi, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to meet in February to discuss fuel supply to Egypt | DNE

POLITICS

Temporary ban on airing parliamentary sessions; Alexandria MP resigns
Egypt's new House of Representatives decided late Monday to temporarily ban the live airing of its sessions until it finishes discussing laws issued since July 2013 by the executive power as mandated by the 2014 constitution. The decision came after the majority of MPs agreed to a proposal submitted by 40 members to stop TV coverage in order to prevent grandstanding by some MPs. Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Al said said journalists would be able to continue to conduct their work covering the sessions, rejecting proposals by some MPs to ban all coverage. The ban order was criticized by a number of representatives and other public figures. Abdel Aal also announced the formation of the House of Representatives Office consisting of the speaker, the two deputies, and six special committees to discuss the approximately 341 laws issued since 2013. The parliament also elected Monday the Wafd Party’s Suleiman Wahdan as second deputy speaker. He faced the parliamentary bloc In Support of Egypt’s Alaa Abdel Moneim in the runoff. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, veteran independent parliamentarian Kamal Ahmed announced his resignation from parliament only two days after its inaugural session. Ahmed, who is in his seventies, said he is leaving parliament for health reasons. However, sources close to him say Ahmed resigned because he disagreed with the way the new parliament is operating. Prior to the January 25 revolution, the Alexandria parliamentarian was known as a harsh critic of Mubarak-era ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). [Ahram Online, Cairo Post, AMAY, 1/12/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Sisi says 'respects separation of powers' as new parliament convenes | Ahram Online
  • Human rights in jeopardy amid parliamentary counter-revolutionary sentiment | DNE

COURTS

Egyptian court rules torture compensation to be paid from convicted policemen's private funds
An administrative court in Alexandria ruled Monday that compensation for victims of police torture should be paid from the funds of the convicted, not from the Interior Ministry's budget. Earlier in December, the Interior Ministry announced that they would require any police officer convicted of torture to pay the victim's compensation. The court ruled in its verdict that "torture is a crime and an unusual, independent mistake for a police officer to go beyond the limits in a way that necessitates compensation from his own money and not from the Interior Ministry for breaking laws of the constitution; it is also an act that necessitates a criminal trial." [Ahram Online, 1/11/2016]

Four journalists sentenced to prison for 'publishing false information’
Cairo's Sayeda Zeinab Misdemeanor Court sentenced four journalists to three years in jail on Monday on charges of practicing their profession without a license and affiliation with “an illegal group.” One of the journalists, Abu Bakr Khallaf, was found guilty of running a so-called Electronic Media Syndicate without a license and for being affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The court found the three other journalists guilty of unlicensed photography and false reporting. Khallaf was the only defendant present in the courtroom for the sentencing. Khallaf reportedly made his EGP 1,200 bail, but it is unclear if he has been released. Mohamed Adly of the privately owned al-Tahrir newspaper, Hamdy Mokhtar of the privately owned al-Shaab newspaper, and videographer Sherif Ashraf were sentenced in absentia. The verdict is subject to appeal, with Khallaf’s appeal hearing scheduled for March 17. The accused were arrested in July 2015 outside Cairo’s central morgue in Zeinhom. They were covering the death of nine Muslim Brotherhood members killed the same month during a security raid on an October 6 apartment in Cairo. [DNE, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 1/12/2016]

Officers get five to seven years in prison for 2011 murder, forging evidence
Giza Criminal Court sentenced an Egyptian police officer to seven years in jail on Monday for murdering, and then attempting to frame, a man he shot dead in a bungled arrest attempt. According to other news reports, the man was beaten to death. The court sentenced Ibrahim Mahgoub to seven years, and five other policemen involved in the case to five years in jail. The officers were alleged to have raided the house of Mohamed Ramadan in the town of al-Saff to search for drugs. When the victim objected and asked the officers to provide a search warrant, they killed him, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors also said Ibrahim Mahgoub, the chief convict, fabricated the drug possession for Ramadan as a pretext for the search, and that investigations cleared Ramadan of the charge. [ Ahram Online, AMAY, 1/11/2016]

Tamarod co-founder detained 15 days for joining 'outlawed group'
Egypt's State Security Prosecution ordered on Monday the detention of activist Moheb Doss, a leading Tamarod member for 15 days pending investigation. He is charged with joining an "outlawed group" called ‘January 25 Youth', his lawyer Mohamed Fadel said, arguing that the charges were false. "The authorities don't have any evidence against him. He wasn't given the right to contact a lawyer, or even the right to be questioned by a normal prosecution, not a specialized one," Fadel added. According to family, his laptop was confiscated from home by authorities on January 7. The Kefaya movement, founded in 2004 to oppose Mubarak, condemned the arrest of Doss “without charges” and added in a statement that the security forces were now targeting “all the icons of the January 25 uprising,” and oppressing any voice that opposes or criticizes the policies of the current authorities. [Ahram Online, 1/11/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Egyptian journalist Ismail Alexandrani's detention extended another 15 days | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE
  • Misr al-Qadima court accepts change of judge and delay in Beheiry’s appeal hearing | DNE

ECONOMY

New Egypt bank rules to boost business lending and growth
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said on Monday it had amended credit market rules to encourage banks to lend to a wider range of clients, as part of efforts to mitigate credit risk and boost growth. In a circular published on its website, the CBE cut the maximum amount that banks are allowed to lend to a single client to 15 percent of their Tier One capital, down from 20 percent previously, to reduce the risks associated with lending to a small number of large clients. In a separate circular, the CBE placed limits on consumer credit, saying that banks were relying too heavily on retail lending. The CBE also cut the total sum banks can invest in money market funds to 2.5 percent of their total deposits in local currency from 5 percent previously, a move bankers say could reduce their holdings of Egypt's government debt. The CBE is also currently awaiting the first segment of a loan from the World Bank, valued at $1 billion that will support foreign reserves. Last week, the CBE received the first segment of a $500 million loan from the African Development Bank. [Reuters, 1/11/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Oil Minister says Egypt 'suffering' from fuel subsidies |AP
  • Egypt seeks $1 billion loan from Chinese bank for sanitation projects in Delta | Ahram Online
  • Egypt's tourist numbers drop 38 percent in November from previous year following Russian plane crash | Ahram Online

SOCIETY & MEDIA

NGO addresses low levels of female political participation
Egyptian women continue to suffer poor political representation and low levels of political participation, according to a report issued by the Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development Centre (ACT). The report addressed the status of Egyptian women and observed their political participation during November and December 2015 in four towns in the governorate of Giza. “Despite women playing an important role in the two revolutions, a large sector of the Egyptian society still believes that the female political participation is not important,” according to the report entitled Monitoring the Current Reality of Political Participation of Egyptian Women. Several women’s groups have also put forward a number of draft laws they want discussed in parliament. These include the personal status law, labor law, child law, domestic violence and human trafficking laws, and municipal elections law.  [DNE, 1/11/2016]

Also of Interest
  • 8 million sign up for 'Egyptian Bank of Knowledge' website | Ahram Online
  • Egypt's current conditions remind me of days before the 25 January revolution, says Sawiris | Ahram Online
  • Two sisters dead after residential building collapses in Egypt's Sharqiya | Ahram Online

SECURITY

Prosecutors say Hurgahda attack was meant to target Russian tourists
Friday’s attack on tourists in Hurghada was meant for Russian tourists, a Supreme State Security Prosecutor investigation has said. According to the investigation, the assailant, who was arrested on the spot, said that the attack was carried out in revenge for Russian strikes in Syria. The other assailant was killed during the attack. According to prosecutors, the defendant said that because they were unable to travel abroad to join a jihadist organization, they planned the attack in Hurghada instead. Prosecutors also said the defendants met through the Ultras White Knights, a football fan group. [AMAY, 1/11/2016]

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