MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

March 10, 2016
The European Parliament passed a resolution Thursday recommending the suspension of military aid and assistance to Egypt in light of the “abduction, savage torture, and killing” of Italian doctoral student Giulio Regeni in Cairo. The resolution was passed by a majority of EU member states, with 558 voting in favor, 10 against, and 59 abstentions. While it is highly recommended, the resolution is not binding. The European Parliament emphasized Regeni’s murder “is not an isolated accident,” but took place within the context of an increase in unlawful practices in Egypt—reports of torture, forced disappearances and the deaths of detainees in police custody. The European Parliament referred to thousands of “prisoners of conscience,” jailed for exercising their basic rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including detainees Mahienour al-Massry, Alaa Abd El Fattah, Aya Hegazy, Mahmoud Mohamed Hussein, Ahmed Saeed, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel. It also criticized travel bans issued against many human rights defenders, including Hossam Bahgat, Gamal Eid, Hossam al-Din Ali, Esraa Abdel Fattah, Omar Hazek and Mohamed Lotfi, among others. The motion cited deteriorating media and press freedoms, a crackdown on civil society organizations, mass death sentences issued for supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, torture in police detention and prisons, among other practices. [Mada Masr, AFP, DNE, 3/10/2016]

POLITICS

Egypt’s cabinet forms committee to investigate legal status of Uber, Careem
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail issued a decree Wednesday to establish a ministerial committee to resolve the ongoing conflicts between Egyptian taxi drivers and app-based cab-hailing companies like Uber and Careem. The decree comes just one day after taxi drivers staged a significant protest in Giza's Mohandiseen district on Tuesday against Uber and Careem. The committee, headed by Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind, will discuss the issue of “private cars being used for commercial purposes and the drivers receiving payment for transporting individuals,” state news agency MENA reported. The committee will also include the ministers of transportation, investment, social solidarity, and local development, as well as a representative from the Interior Ministry. The committee's deadline has not been announced, but it has been reported that the committee will likely present its findings at the upcoming cabinet meeting, the date of which was also unspecified. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 3/9/2016]

Ahmed Mortada Mansour faces uncertain fate in parliament
The Court of Cassation is set to disqualify Ahmed Mortada Mansour, son of Mortada Mansour, as a member of parliament after a recount of votes was made, based upon a lawsuit filed by his runner-up in the elections Amr al-Shobaky. The court is yet to announce the results of the recount, however, Shobaky’s lawyer Islam al-Dabaa said Wednesday that the result favors his client. The court will announce on Wednesday the date for its verdict. If errors are found in the initial count, the verdict could either order a reelection or announce the victory of Shobaky over Mansour. Meanwhile, MP Alaa Abdel Moneim has also submitted a request to strip Mansour’s father, MP and high-profile lawyer Mortada Mansour, of his parliamentary membership. Abdel Moneim submitted a request to Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Al, to form a committee to question Mansour on his "bad conduct" and strip him of parliamentary membership on the grounds of his repeated abuse of constitutional rules and insistence on intimidating fellow MPs. Mansour responded Wednesday, accusing Abdel-Moneim of leading a hostile media campaign against him.  "I submitted a memo to speaker Abdel-Al, explaining in detail that the conflict between me and Abdel-Moneim is personal and that parliament should not be part of or a place for conflict," Mansour said. He also told reporters that he informed Abdel-Al that he filed 16 lawsuits against Abdel-Moneim, accusing him of slander and defamation. Abdel Moneim said he would collect 200 endorsements to his demand, to bring the motion to a vote. [Ahram Online, DNE, 3/10/15]

Also of Interest
  • PFORT report documents 122 cases of government corruption in February | DNE

COURTS

Court acquits 49 Brotherhood members, including Gamal Heshmat, on protest charges
The Damanhour Criminal Court acquitted Thursday 49 Muslim Brotherhood members of illegal protesting and attempting to overthrow the regime. The Brotherhood leaders, some of whom were sentenced in absentia, include former parliamentarians Gamal Heshmat, Osama Suleiman and Maher Hazeema as well as Mohammed Suweidan, who headed the Brotherhood's administrative office in Beheira province. The case dates back to events that took place in Egypt's delta governorate of Beheria in August 2013, one month after the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi. The public prosecution can appeal the verdict. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 3/10/2016]

Report against state TV anchor referred to State Security Prosecution
Egypt’s Prosecutor General referred Thursday a report filed against state TV anchor Azza al-Henawy to the Supreme State Security Prosecution. Henawy had criticized President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi earlier this week during an episode of her television show with journalist Osama Shehata. Following the broadcast, two reports were filed against her, accusing her of incitement. Lawyer Samir Sabry filed the first report—which has since been referred to the Supreme State Security Prosecution—accusing her of insulting Sisi and inciting insurrection. Sabry also accused Henawy of conspiring with international parties as ‘evidenced by the foreign agenda’ of her television program. In the second report, lawyer Ashraf Farahat, who has also filed a complaint against Hamdeen Sabbahi, accused Henawy of insulting the presidency. His report included alleged posts from Henawy’s personal Facebook account which he says support his claim. Farahat called for the government to ban Henawy from travel pending the completion of the investigation. Henawy also stands to face dismissal from her show on state television, based on the recommendations of an Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) committee tasked with investigating the allegations. [DNE, 3/10/2016]

ECONOMY

Egypt denies seeking IMF loan
Egypt dismissed as inaccurate reports that it is seeking a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with CBE Governor Tarek Amer saying Egypt’s foreign-currency crunch is temporary. “Previous experiences prove that rumors and exaggerations don’t have economic foundations,” he said. A senior government official had told Bloomberg News on Wednesday that the country plans to approach the IMF for loan talks, saying that the size of the loan had not yet been determined. Egypt has held several rounds of negotiations with the IMF since 2011, reaching two staff-level agreements that were never finalized. Head of Equities Strategy at Beltone Financial Hany Geneina said that a deal may be easier this time. “Egypt has already implemented a big chunk of the economic measures that the IMF typically asks for,” he said, referring to cuts in fuel subsidies and higher electricity prices. [Ahram Online, Bloomberg, 3/9/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Egypt's core inflation eases to 7.5 percent in February | Reuters
  • Egypt's annual urban consumer price inflation eased to 9.1 percent in February | Reuters
  • Central Bank official denies Egypt seeking IMF loan | Ahram Online
  • Egypt to cut price of gas to steel and iron factories | Reuters
  • Egyptian importers seek loopholes amid dollar shortage | Reuters
  • EGP decline threatens Egypt’s economic growth | DNE
  • Suez Cement working to limit impact of Egypt's dollar shortage | Bloomberg
  • Banque Misr obtains $100 million loan from China Development Bank | DNE
  • Egypt to offer incentives for low-cost airlines says minister | Reuters

SOCIETY & MEDIA

Journalist remains in prison despite prosecution confirming his release order
Political activist Sherif Diab was released Wednesday morning, five days after he received his release order pending investigations from the prosecution Saturday. While Journalist Mahmoud al-Sakka was ordered released as well, he remains imprisoned. The National Security Apparatus told Sakka and Diab’s lawyer, Doaa Mostafa, that it was unable to release them since it did not receive the documents of the release order from the prosecution. Mostafa said she is still working on the procedures to release Sakka, adding that she expects he will be released either Wednesday or Thursday. Sakka and Diab were arrested on December 30, 2015 and detained on charges of forming an illegal political movement called the January 25 Youth. [DNE, 3/9/2016]

Egypt's rights groups ask for support of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Sixteen Egyptian rights groups sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad detailing the "ongoing deterioration" of human rights in Egypt shortly before his scheduled address to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva on Thursday. The organizations, among them the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, detailed human rights abuses in  “seven major issues of concern,  including extrajudicial killing and police brutality; imprisonment, torture, and ill treatment; freedom of association and assembly; the suppression of media and artistic freedoms and draconian measures against cultural and academic institutions; economic and social justice; women’s rights; and religious freedoms.” The letter offered a list of recommendations and asked for the High Commissioner’s support in the 31st session of the UNHRC. The association of al-Aqrab prisoners’ families, together with five human rights organizations, also released a statement Tuesday, marking international women’s day, in which they detailed the treatment of women by Egyptian security forces over the past two and a half years. The signatories include the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. [Aswat Masriya, 3/10/2016]

Also of Interest
  • Five sanitary landfills to be established in Egypt | MENA

SECURITY

Bomb in Giza injures three civilians
Egypt's Interior Ministry said three civilians were injured late Wednesday night in a bombing in the Giza neighborhood of Faysal. An improvised explosive device detonated while a police convoy was passing through a local street, the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page. The explosion injured three people who happened to be at the scene and damaged two police vehicles. One suspect has been arrested in relation to the attack, the ministry added. [Ahram Online, AP, DNE, 3/10/2016]

INTERNATIONAL

Arab League foreign ministers gather in Cairo to elect new secretary general
Arab League foreign ministers arrived in Cairo Thursday to attend an urgent meeting called to vote to elect the new Arab League secretary general. Deputy Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Bin Helli announced Monday that former Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit is the only candidate who has been nominated for the position of secretary general. Several Arab countries—including Libya, Kuwait, Algeria, and Bahrain—have welcomed Aboul-Gheit’s nomination. [DNE, 3/10/2016]

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