News Update: December 8, 2011

Tantawi al-Arabiya

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party dominated the run-off voting on December 5-6, winning 34 out of the 52 seats contested. Meanwhile, the SCAF stated that the upcoming parliament will not be representative of the Egyptian people, and that those appointed to write a new constitution will need to be approved by the interim cabinet and an ”advisory council."


1) The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party dominated the run-off voting on December 5-6, winning 34 out of the 52 seats contested. The Salafist al-Nour coalition won five seats, the Egyptian Bloc two, al-Wafd one, al-Adl one, the National Party of Egypt one and Egyptian Citizen one. Three went to independents. [al-Ahram, English, 12/8/2011] 

2) The Brotherhood-dominated Democratic Alliance is expected to nominate Judge Mahmoud al-Khodairy as speaker of parliament in the new People’s Assembly. According to a source in the Democratic Alliance, the FJP has selected al-Khodairy for his reputation as a respected public figure who could win the support of a parliamentary majority. The FJP is considering nominating one of its party leaders – either Essam al-Arian or Saad al-Katatny – for the post of deputy speaker and reserving the second deputy post for a representative of other parliamentary forces, “so the party does not control all key positions within the coming parliament,” according to the source. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 12/8/2011] 


3) SCAF member Major General Mukhtar al-Mulla said the upcoming parliament would not be representative of the Egyptian people, and that those appointed to write a new constitution will need to be approved by the interim cabinet and an ”advisory council” of intellectuals, civilian politicians and media personalities, both of which will be subject to the SCAF’s oversight. ”This is the first stage in our democracy … At the moment, given the unstable situation, parliament is not representing all the Egyptian people, Mulla said, adding that details of the military’s budget must remain shielded from oversight. [The Guardian, English, 12/8/2011] 

4) The SCAF is expected to announce on December 8 a new “advisory council” tasked with advising the SCAF until presidential elections. The 35-member council was meant to include representatives from all post-revolutionary political forces, but the Freedom and Justice Party has decided to withdraw its representative from the council, citing concern that it would seek to intervene in the formation of a constituent assembly and process of drafting a new charter. [al-Shorouk, Arabic, 12/8/2011] [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 12/8/2011] 


5) Kamal Ganzouri’s new cabinet was sworn in by Field Marshal Tantawi on December 7. The incumbent ministers of foreign affairs, planning and international cooperation, tourism, military production, local development, communications, irrigation, and religious affairs all retained their posts.  New members of the cabinet included Interior Minister Mohamed Youssef, Information Minister Ahmed Anis, Minister of Justice Abdel Abdel-Hamid Abullah, Finance Minister Momtaz el-Saeida and state ministers for antiquities, scientific research and environment.  Profiles of the new ministers are available here. Ganzouri’s choice for interior minister, Mohamed Youssef Ibrahim, has already come under fire for his alleged human rights violations in 2005, when security forces under his command violently dispersed a sit-in by Sudanese refugees in downtown Cairo, killing 27 people.  The new Finance Minister, Momtaz al-Said, is a longtime ministry official who served as undersecretary during Mubarak’s rule. He has already pledged not to revise the 2011/12 state budget, which has been heavily criticized for failing to meet redistributive expectations. [al-Ahram, English, 12/8/2011] [AP, English, 12/8/2011] 

6) A spokesman for the moderate Islamist Wasat Party expressed disappointment with the composition of the new cabinet, saying Ganzouri’s appointees do not reflect new thinking or the demands of the revolution. “This government cannot be called a national salvation government, but rather a traditional government that is no different from the governments of the old era,” he said. [al-Shorouk, Arabic, 12/8/2011] 

7) A military source reported that the presidential powers transferred to Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri by the SCAF’s latest decree will only be “temporary,” according to the interim constitution. The SCAF issued a decree on December 7 delegating all executive powers included in Article 56 of the interim constitution to the prime minister, while retaining power over the judiciary and military. [al-Ahram, English, 12/8/2011] 


8) At a press conference on December 8, SCAF member Major General Mukhtar al-Mulla said the writing of a new constitution would begin in April, and that the document would then be put to a public referendum in June before presidential elections that month. [The Guardian, English, 12/8/2011] 


9) Egyptian consumer confidence dropped 4.9 percent this month. In November, only 52.9 per cent of those polled expected short-term improvements to the country’s overall economic situation, while around 57 per cent had expressed optimism a month earlier. [al-Ahram, English, 12/8/2011] 


10) The Freedom and Justice Party has denied claims published in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that the Muslim Brotherhood held talks with U.S. officials regarding the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.  The FJP’s secretary general, Saad al-Kataany, clarified the party’s stance on international treaties, claiming that the party respects all international treaties as long as they achieve their goals, noting that parliament has the right to revise any treaty that does not achieve its goals. [al-Ahram, English, 12/8/2011] 

11) An Israeli air strike in central Gaza killed a Palestinian militant planning a terrorist attack on the Egypt border, according to an IDF official. [Haaretz, English, 12/8/2011]

Photo Credit: Al Arabiya

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