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November 15, 2011
Supreme Administrative Court

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and other major political forces signed a statement threatening to stage mass protests on November 18 if the SCAF refuses to withdraw its controversial draft constitutional principles by November 16.  Meanwhile, a major court ruling affirmed the right of former NDP members to compete in upcoming elections.  Semi-official statistics indicate that more than 1,500 former NDP members have registered to run as independents or on other party lists.

PROTESTS: 

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and other major political forces signed a statement threatening to stage mass protests on November 18 if the SCAF refuses to withdraw its controversial draft constitutional principles by November 16. The statement was released at a press conference held at the FJP’s headquarters and signed by 18 political parties (including Wasat, al-Ghad al-Thawra, Karam, and the Adl Party) along with presidential candidates Amr Moussa, Mohamed Selim El-Awa, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, Abdallah Meshel and Ayman Nour. [Al-Ahram, English, 11/15/2011] [Al-Youm al-Saba’a, Arabic, 11/15/2011] 

Protesters in Damietta have not been placated by the Cabinet’s decision to suspend construction on two environmentally hazardous manufacturing plants owned by the Egyptian fertilizer company, MOPKO. Protesters continued to obstruct the city’s major roads while attempting to blockade the port where the MOPKO facilities are located. [Al-Ahram, English, 11/15/2011] 

Hundreds of protesters rallied in Shobra to demand an end to military trials of civilians and the release of detained blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah. [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 11/15/2011] 

NDP REMNANTS: 

After conflicting rulings from lower courts, the Supreme Administrative Court issued an authoritative verdict on November 14 maintaining that former NDP members cannot be barred from competing in the upcoming elections.  Semi-official statistics indicate that more than 1,500 former NDP members have registered to run as independents or on other party lists, accounting for almost 12.5 percent of the total number of registered independent and party-based candidates. The FJP, April 6 Youth movements and other major political forces have been lobbying the SCAF to reactive a Nasser-era Treason Law that would bar former NDP members from political activity for a five-year period. [Al-Ahram, English, 11/15/2011] 

Members of major political forces including the National Association for Change (NAC), the Social Democratic Party, Wasat, and the Free Front for Peaceful Change expressed disappointment and frustration with the Supreme Administrative Court’s refusal to bar former NDP members from competing in elections. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/15/2011] 

ELECTION ADMINISTRATION: 

Interior Minister Mansour al-Essawy met with Field Marshal Tantawi to present a plan for securing the first phase of the parliamentary elections. According to al-Essawy, security personnel “will firmly confront any attempt to create chaos or break the law” but will not interfere with the electoral process in any way or enter polling stations. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/15/2011] [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 11/15/2011] 

CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE: 

Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmi held a dialogue with major political groups on November 14 to discuss the controversial supra-constitutional principles, which have been heavily criticized for protecting the military’s political power and economic privileges. Participants in the meeting claimed that the Cabinet will most likely agree to cancel all provisions in the document pertaining to the military in addition to amending the criteria that will be used to select the 100-member assembly that will be tasked with writing a new constitution after parliamentary elections. [Al-Ahram, English, 11/15/2011] 

Wahid Abdul Magid, head of a coordinating committee formed by political parties to oppose the constitutional principles announced that a “compromise formula” had been reached following a meeting with Deputy PM Ali al-Selmi, which includes the reformulation of the controversial articles 9 and 10 (pertaining to the military’s power). Regarding the selection of the constituent assembly, Magid said al-Selmi was in agreement with political forces that the assembly should reflect a national consensus rather than a parliamentary majority, and should represent all social and political currents. The current draft of the principles gives the SCAF the authority to choose 80 percent of the assembly’s members, while 20 percent will be selected by the next elected parliament. [Al-Youm al-Saba’a, Arabic, 11/15/2011] 

U.S./FOREIGN POLICY: 

Head of the SCAF, Field Marshal Tantawi, met with US Chief of Central Command General James Mattis and a visiting American delegation in Cairo to discuss the state of the transition, regional affairs, and common interests shared by the U.S. and Egypt. U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson was also present at the meeting. [Moheet, Arabic, 11/15/2011] [Al-Ahram, English, 11/15/2011] 

Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr defended the ministry’s decision not to withdraw Egypt’s ambassador from Syria, following the Arab League’s decision to suspend Syria’s membership. Amr justified Egypt’s decision as an attempt to promote dialogue and “prevent foreign intervention.” [Al-Ahram, English, 11/15/2011] 

MEDIA CRACKDOWN: 

Yet another blogger-activist has been summoned for questioning by military prosecutors over his alleged role in instigating clashes outside of Maspero state television headquarters last month. Bahaa Saber refused to respond to the summons, saying he will only agree to face a civilian judge. [Al-Ahram, English, 11/15/2011] 

An anonymous source at the Ministry of Information said that the SCAF has secretly tasked certain media personalities with forming a National Media Council to control the press. “Such a council would be a knife to our throats,” said Farida al-Shobashy, who recently resigned from the Radio and Television Union’s council of trustees. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/15/2011] 

Photo Credit: Al-Ahram

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