Top News: Egypt Keen to Participate Effectively at UN General Assembly Says Presidency

Egypt will present its views on various issues during President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s visit to the UN General Assembly, said presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef, who added that the country is keen on participating fully in Assembly activities. Youssef said in press statements in New York that Sisi is set to meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday to discuss the latest developments in the Palestinian occupied territories. Youssef pointed out that the Syrian issue will be a main focus of Sisi’s speech at the General Assembly. He also stressed that Egyptian-US relations are of strategic importance and that the two countries are keen on working together for progress in the coming period. He did not, however, confirm whether Sisi will meet with his US counterpart Barack Obama. Sisi held on Thursday evening talks with founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Klaus Schwab. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, meanwhile, held Thursday separate meetings with his Romanian, Colombian, Iranian, and South Sudanese counterparts in New York. Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy said, upon arrival in New York, that “Climate change is among the top issues to be discussed during the upcoming sideline meetings, in preparation for the upcoming climate change summit in Paris this December.” Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said, upon arrival, she is planning to meet with World Bank Leaders, among other international organizations, to strengthen the cooperation for development between Egypt and other countries. [Ahram Online, 9/25/2015]


Sisi grants Prime Minister, Industry Minister some presidential powers
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree on Thursday giving newly-appointed Prime Minister Sherif Ismail some of his powers as he headed to New York to attend the 70th UN General Assembly meeting. The powers include protecting antiquities, disposing of state property, and granting pensions and special bonuses. Under the decree, Ismail is in charge of enforcing provisions of the law regulating markets and non-banking instruments and is entitled to delegate some of his powers in this respect. Sisi also gave Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil the right to exercise presidential powers outlined in Articles 1 and 3 of the law regulating and promoting industrial activity in Egypt. Article 1 prohibits the establishment, enlargement, or change of activity or location of an industrial plant without a license from the Ministry of Industry and the approval of a presidential committee. The committee would base its decision on the state’s economic and social development plans. Article 3 gives the president the power to form a committee to decide on revoking a plant’s license.  [SIS, Aswat Masriya, 9/24/2015]

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Egyptian activists ‘happy 100 pardoned are free but demand more’
A number of public figures welcomed President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s decision on Wednesday to pardon 100 prisoners, most of whom were young people convicted for violating the protest law. In statements to Al-Ahram, Medhat al-Zahed, the interim president of Socialist Populist Alliance Party, said Sisi’s decision is a “positive development,” and added he hoped further pardons of young people would follow. Zahed also expressed his wish that Sisi amend the controversial protest law, which landed many of those pardoned on Wednesday behind bars. Rajia Omran, a prominent rights lawyer who represented some of the released, wrote on her Facebook account: “Yes, we were happy they were let out, because happiness is a right for the innocent who deserve compensation. But our happiness won’t be completed until all the innocent are out [of prison].” Rights activist Mona Seif, whose sister Sanaa Seif was one of those pardoned but not her brother Alaa, said on her Facebook account that “[pardoning] 100 or 200 and the prisons are full of thousands of innocents, including children, is unjust.” Bassem Youssef, the well-known political satirist and former TV host, wrote in Arabic on Twitter that “liberty is a right and not something to be granted by those who do not have the right to do so.” Of the 100 pardoned, forty-eight were released on Wednesday and Thursday, according to grassroots group, Freedom for the Brave. The group published the names of the 100 prisoners, adding that fifty-two of them have yet to be released. The release of Salwa Mehrez, for example, who was part of the Presidential Palace case, has been delayed due to the misspelling of her name in the presidential pardon document. [Ahram Online, 9/24/2015]


Prime Minister assigns Investment Minister to report on Sharm al-Sheikh projects
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has tasked Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman with compiling a comprehensive report on projects from the Sharm al-Sheikh conference that have faced roadblocks in their implementation. According to Cabinet Spokesman Hossam al-Kawish, Ismail requested that Salman identify actions the government will take to finalize and implement the projects. The projects are in several sectors, including electricity, supply, agriculture, housing, transportation, and planning. Ismail reportedly ordered meetings with relevant ministries to study the obstacles facing the projects and to take the necessary steps to proceed with their implementation. According to Salman, six signed agreements worth $30.215 billion are currently being implemented in the sectors of petroleum, electricity, and transportation. Ismail added that five memoranda of understanding have been converted into agreements worth $10.526 billion, while twenty-two agreements have been converted into contracts. [DNE, 9/25/2015]

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Anti-sexual harassment group documents eighty-seven incidents on first day of Eid
An anti-sexual harassment campaign group documented eighty-seven cases of harassment in downtown Cairo on the first day of the Eid Al-Adha holiday, which is one of most common days for this type of abuse to occur. I Saw Harassment reported nine cases of physical harassment and seventy-eight cases of verbal harassment from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Thursday. The group works with volunteers to patrol the downtown Cairo area, where many people congregate in the evenings of public holidays. Activists say that the police have made slow but noticeable progress in dealing with the widespread social problem in recent years. The group’s report, however, said that “despite the increase of police forces from various departments in the Ministry of Interior, sexual harassment crimes have not gone away, there were many incidents against women and girls in the downtown area.” In an effort to reduce and prosecute crimes of both terrorism and harassment during the holiday, Cairo authorities installed 310 cameras around the city. [DNE, 9/25/2015]

Twenty-seven alleged Brotherhood members arrested over violating designated praying areas
Twenty-seven individuals allegedly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested by security forces Thursday in Alexandria for trying to establish “irregular” open areas to perform Eid Al-Adha. The Ministry of Endowment allocated over 4,000 areas across the country to perform the prayer, and warned against using undesignated areas. Those arrested were also accused of partaking in illegal protests and inciting violence. [Cairo Post, 9/24/2015]


Hamas leader addresses Egypt’s flooding of Gaza tunnels in Eid speech
Hamas on Thursday accused Egypt of further besieging the Gaza Strip by flooding the border area to the south of the Palestinian enclave, which is already under an Israeli blockade. “Why are they digging those trenches and those water pipes around Rafah?” Hamas’s chief in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said during a speech to commemorate the Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday. “And why discard neighborly relations and the history of Gaza, which has always defended the regional security of Egypt and Arab countries? We are telling our Egyptian brothers: Stop this project. We will do our duty against those who besiege Gaza and plot against it.” Egyptian officials have declined to comment on the work criticized by Hamas. [AFP, 9/24/2015]

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