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Egypt campaigning

Blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah was summoned to appear before a military prosecutor on November 1, sparking large-scale protests in Cairo and Alexandria, where thousands gathered to demand his release and an end to military trials of civilians. Meanwhile, the Higher Electoral Commission announced that the official campaign period for parliamentary elections will begin on November 2. As the debate over legal reform continues, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Al-Selmy invited around 500 representatives of different parties and movements to a meeting to discuss proposed supra-constitutional principles and establish criteria for selecting members of the 100-member constituent assembly that will draft a new constitution after parliamentary elections, but most Islamist forces including the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party refused to attend.

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Following the appearance of hundreds of posters supporting the presidential candidacy of Field Marshal Tantawi, an anonymous military official close to the SCAF insisted that the military council had “nothing at all to do with this campaign" and claimed that "we are committed to handing power over to civilians." As Islamist parties continue to expand their influence, amember of the Salafi Nour Party, Abdel Moneim al-Shahat, said that voting for Islamist candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections “is a religious obligation." Meanwhile, in an escalation of the SCAF's crackdown on NGOs, the Cairo Court of Appeals agreed to investigate alleged secret bank accounts and companies providing funds to 75 Egyptian and international civil society groups in addition to 40 private individuals.

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Police protest

Non-commissioned police officers agreed to end their sit-in in front of the Interior Ministry peacefully, according to a security source, after Minister of Interior Mansour El-Essawy met with representatives of the protesters and promised to meet their demands for fair promotions, better healthcare, a shorter work day, higher wages, and the “cleansing” of the ministry of former regime loyalists. Meanwhile, judges as well as lawyers have been staging intermittent strikes over the past two weeks in an escalating crisis provoked by a controversial draft law on judicial authority that would give judges broad powers to dismiss lawyers from courtrooms for disrespectful conduct.   

PROTESTS:

Non-commissioned police officers agreed to end their sit-in in front of the Interior Ministry peacefully, according to a security source, after Minister of Interior Mansour El-Essawy met with representatives of the protesters and promised to meet their demands. Police had demanded fair promotions, better healthcare, a shorter work day, higher wages, and the “cleansing” of the ministry of former regime loyalists. [Al-Ahram, English, 10/31/2011]

JUDGES’ CRISIS:

Judges as well as lawyers have been staging intermittent strikes over the past two weeks in an escalating crisis provoked by a controversial draft law on judicial authority that would give judges broad powers to dismiss lawyers from courtrooms for disrespectful conduct. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf held a meeting on October 30 with Justice Minister Abdel Aziz al-Gendy, Judge Ahmed al-Zend (chairman of the Judges’ Club) and Interior Minister Mansour Al-Essawy in an effort to diffuse the crisis, and promised that the draft law would not be introduced without the support of the next elected parliament. [Al-Ahram, English, 10/30/2011] [Al-Youm al-Saba’a, Arabic, 10/31/2011]

The Lawyers Syndicate’s freedoms committee submitted a proposal to the SCAF suggesting that elections by monitored by lawyers certified by the Court of Cassation rather than judges. Tensions have been rising between lawyers and judges over the draft law on judicial authority, which has been heavily criticized by lawyers. Judges fired bullets into the air in an attempt to disperse lawyers protesting the draft law outside of the Supreme Judicial Court on October 29. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 10/31/2011]

ELECTIONS:

Regarding last week's court ruling extending voting rights to Egyptian expatriates, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said, "God willing, we will be able to overcome all legislative and executive obstacles for participation of Egyptians abroad in the elections, and the difficulty of these procedures is outweighed by the ultimate objective of participation." [Al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 10/30/2011]

The National Association for Change warned against conducting elections as scheduled on November 28, in light of current conditions and the continued state of emergency. The NAC called on the government to swiftly reactivate the Nasser-era Treachery Law to bar former regime members from political activity and stressed the need for a “national salvation government.” [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 10/31/2011]

The Political Party Affairs Committee has granted a license to a new liberal party, Hizb al-Hayat (the Life Party), founded by the prominent Coptic activists Michael Munir. [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 10/31/2011]

SECTARIAN ISSUES:

Islamic scholars have condemned a recent fatwa by Salafi preacher Mahmoud Amer calling on Muslims not to vote for Coptic and secular candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled on 28 November. [
Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 10/30/2011]

Al-Azhar has issued a document support democratic transitions in the Arab region and advocating reforms to achieve social justice and an equitable distribution of wealth. The document also affirms the right of citizens to reform their societies in accordance with Islamic Sharia principles. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 10/31/2011]

MEDIA CRACKDOWN:

On October 30, military prosecutors ordered that Alaa Abd El Fattah, a prominent blogger, be held in detention for 15 days on charges of inciting violence against the military. Solidarity protests are being planned in Egypt and Tunisia to protests El Fattah’s detention. The march in Cairo will begin on the evening of October 31 at Talaat Harb Square and proceed to the Appeals Prison where El Fattah is being held. [
Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 10/30/2011] [Al-Ahram, English, 10/31/2011]

TRIALS:

Hosni Mubarak’s trial has been adjourned until December 28, to allow additional time for another court to rule on a request by lawyers for the victims to remove the three-judge panel in Mubarak's trial. The delay is likely to frustrate protesters who are demanding the prosecution of the former president and recovery of the Mubarak family’s assets. [
AP
, English, 10/30/2011]

The April 6 Youth Movement on Monday issued a statement rejecting the interrogation of its members before military tribunals, stressing that its members will defy any summons to appear before military prosecutors. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 10/31/2011]

The Ministry of Justice decided to release, pending investigation, five officers suspected of destroying documents in the Aswan office of the now-disbanded State Security Investigations Service (SSIS). In March, hundreds of civilians stormed the SSIS offices in Cairo and other governorates following reports that security had been destroying evidence of corruption and abuse. [
Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 10/31/2011]

ECONOMY:


Recent public statements by Finance Minister Hazem Al-Bebawi and other government officials stressing the need for foreign loans have been met by opposition from activists organizing an anti-borrowing campaign under the slogan, "Open Your Eyes, The Debt Comes Out of Your Pocket!”  Organizers of the campaign are opposed to a $3 billion financing package offered by the IMF in June and which may soon be renegotiated. [
Bloomberg, English, 10/31/2011]

Tantawi

Following the appearance of hundreds of posters supporting the presidential candidacy of Field Marshal Tantawi, an anonymous military official close to the SCAF insisted that the military council had “nothing at all to do with this campaign" and claimed that "we are committed to handing power over to civilians." As Islamist parties continue to expand their influence, amember of the Salafi Nour Party, Abdel Moneim al-Shahat, said that voting for Islamist candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections “is a religious obligation." Meanwhile, in an escalation of the SCAF's crackdown on NGOs, the Cairo Court of Appeals agreed to investigate alleged secret bank accounts and companies providing funds to 75 Egyptian and international civil society groups in addition to 40 private individuals.

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Egyptian Police Protest

The Coalition of the Revolution Youth is calling for a “Friday of defending the revolution” on October 28 to demand a transfer of power to an elected civilian government by April 2012. Meanwhile, low-ranking policemen continued their sit-in for a third day straight outside of Interior Ministry directorates in Cairo and other provinces, demanding improved working conditions and the dismissal of ministry officials connected to the former regime.

PROTESTS:

As a number of parties and movements call for a major demonstration on Friday, October 28 to demand presidential elections by May 5, 2012, Islamist presidential candidate Mohamed Selim al-Awa urged Egyptians to refrain from protests for the sake of maintaining stability during the election period. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 10/26/2011]

The Coalition of the Revolution Youth is calling for a “Friday of defending the revolution” on October 28 to demand a transfer of power to an elected civilian government by April 2012. [Al-Ahram, English, 10/26/2011]

Low-ranking policemen continued their sit-in for a third day straight outside of Interior Ministry directorates in Cairo and other provinces, demanding improved working conditions and the dismissal of ministry officials connected to the former regime.  In Cairo, police protesters began a hunger strike and demanded the resignation of Interior Minister Mansour al-Essawy. Ministry officials met with a delegation of protesters and agreed to meet 14 demands, but said that the reforms could only be implemented through military decree by the SCAF. [Al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 10/26/2011] [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 10/26/2011] [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 10/26/2011]

POLICE REFORM:

Deputy Interior Minister Abdel Latif al-Bidiny appeared on state television to affirm that the Interior Ministry is working to restructure Egypt’s police force. Al-Bidiny said that the police apparatus needs tob be replaced by a totally new structure, but only after the political and security situation has stabilized. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 10/26/2011]

Alexandria’s Criminal Court sentenced two policemen, Mahmoud Salah Mahmoud and Awad Ismael Soliman, to seven years in prison for the murder and torture of Khaled Said in June 2010. [Al-Ahram, English, 10/26/2011] [Al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 10/26/2011]

The Cairo-based Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture issued a report claiming that military police sexually assaulted and denied medical care to some of those detained during clashes outside of Maspero. [Al-Ahram, English, 10/26/2011]

ELECTIONS:

After police protesters threatened that they will not work to secure the parliamentary elections in the absence of concessions by the Interior Ministry, SCAF member Hassan Ruwaini outlined a plan for maintaining security during the polling process, saying that military personnel will cooperate with civilian police in all governorates. Ruwainit warned that the armed forces will use “an iron fist” against anyone seeking to compromise the integrity of the elections. [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 10/26/2011]

The Democratic Alliance will compete for 100 percent of the seats in the People’s Assembly. After the defection of several parties including the Wafd, the Alliance now includes eleven parties, including the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which has been heavily criticized by other members for attempts to dominate the joint electoral lists. On October 25, the Social Peace Party became the latest to back out of the Alliance, saying it will boycott the elections over the FJP’s attempts to “marginalize” other alliance members. The Social Peace Party accused the FJP of violating a previous agreement with Alliance members to limit its proportion of seats to 35 percent. On October 23, the head of the Alliance’s electoral coordinating committee announced that FJP candidates are now competing for 75 percent of the People’s Assembly and Shura Council seats, as a result of the refusal of several parties belonging to the Alliance to compete for individual candidacy or Shura seats (which had the effect of inflating the representation of FJP candidates on the Alliance lists). [Al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 10/25/2011] [Al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 10/23/2011]

The Foreign Ministry announced that it has a comprehensive plan to facilitate voting for Egyptians abroad, following an October 25 administrative court ruling that granted expatriates the right to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections. A ministry spokesman stressed that Egyptian embassies and consulates abroad will bear responsibility for administering the polling process. Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry announced plans to dispatch official delegations to the United States, Canada, Britain and France to issue national identification cards and other official documents for Egyptians abroad. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 10/26/2011] [Al-Ahram, English, 10/26/2011]

A new group called Egypt Above All has launched a campaign urging Field Marashal Tantawi to run for president under the slogan, “A popular demand for stability.” The coalition’s coordinator, Mahmoud Attia, said the group is a “representative of the silent majority which sees Tantawi as the best candidate … and the only one capable of leading the country towards real democracy.” Meanwhile, hundreds of posters promoting Tantawi’s presidential candidacy have appeared in several districts of Cairo and Alexandria.  [Al-Arabiya, English, 10/26/2011] [Huffington Post, English, 10/26/2011]

PRESS SYNDICATE ELECTIONS:

Members of the Press Syndicate are voting to select a new board and chairman for the union, after operating for years under s syndicate leadership dominated by NDP members. [Al-Ahram, English, 10/26/2011]

EGYPT-ISRAEL RELATIONS:

Egypt has refused to release five Israelis convicted of espionage as part of the prisoner swap deal to be implemented with Israel, according to an Israeli radio report citing Egyptian sources. Egypt intends to keep the five detainees for future negotiations. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 10/26/2011]

ECONOMY:

Finance Minister Hazem al-Beblawi warned that government borrowing from domestic lenders is nearing its limit, and the government will need to seek additional financing from abroad. Egypt is due to begin talks this week with the International Monetary Fund, four months after it turned down a US$3.2 billion assistance package. [Al-Ahram, English, 10/26/2011]

Finance Minister Hazem al-Beblawi met with France's special envoy to discuss the $38 billion in G8 aid promised to the Arab world and requested additional details on how Egypt will benefit from the pledge. [Al-Ahram, English, 10/26/2011]

Photo Credit: Xinhua News

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