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November 16, 2011
No to Military Trials

Several political forces and presidential candidates have reportedly reached an agreement with Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmi on amendments to the heavily criticized constitutional principles. The Brotherhood and Islamist groups, however, rejected the agreement and threatened to escalate street protests leading to a “new revolution” on January 25, if the draft document is ratified.

PROTESTS: 

Presidential candidate Amr Moussa, who met with Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmi and other political forces on November 15 to discuss revisions to the heavily criticized constitutional principles, said that political forces may back down from their threat to stage a mass demonstration on November 18 after an agreement was reached over amendments to Articles 9 and 10. The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, along with other Islamist and Salafi parties, rejected the agreement, warning that it will escalate street protests and call for a “new revolution” on January 25, 2012, if the SCAF ratifies al-Selmi’s draft document. Islamists have opposed the military’s proposal for supra-constitutional principles, fearing that such a decree would limit their influence over the next constitution. [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 11/16/2011]

ELECTIONS:

Preparations for administering the elections are underway and the Egyptian government reported receiving a shipment of 510,000 bottles of phosphoric ink and uniforms for supervising officials, provided by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/16/2011]

The High Electoral Commission will release the finalized list of registered candidates for the first round of voting on November 17, while the lists for the second and third stages of voting will be announced a few days later. The HEC explained that the release of the list has been delayed due to court rulings disqualifying candidates and the nomination of additional candidates by parties for incomplete lists. [Al-Youm al-Saba’a, Arabic, 11/16/2011]

The Cabinet has agreed to add a new article, No. 39, to the interim constitution issued on March 30, 2011, enabling Egyptian expatriates to vote in elections. [Al-Youm al-Saba’a, Arabic, 11/16/2011]

NDP REMNANTS:

An administrative court in Zagazig rejected six challenges to the eligibility of former NDP candidates, following a major ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court affirming the right of former NDP members to compete in upcoming elections. [Al-Shorouk, Arabic, 11/16/2011]

Egyptian state television has banned campaign ads by the Conservative Party (founded by a former leading member of the NDP), claiming that the ads “violated” professional standards. [Al-Ahram, English, 11/16/2011]

CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE:

Political groups reached an agreement with Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmi after meeting to discuss the controversial constitutional principles. The primary objection of the Muslim Brotherhood and other participants was to Articles 9 and 10, which deal with the composition of the committee that will be tasked with drafting Egypt’s next constitution. Al-Selmi reportedly agreed to modify the text of these articles, while still preserving language that protects the “privacy” of the armed forces and confidentiality of its budget. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/16/2011]

The New York Times published an op-ed arguing that the military is “far more interested in protecting its power than promoting real democratic change,” as evidenced by the recently issued constitutional principles, the downgrading of the status of international observers to “witnesses” and rejecting suggestions that the U.S. government use some of its military aid to train election workers and political party operatives on a nonpartisan basis. [The New York Times, English, 11/16/2011]

NGO FUNDING:

The state-owned Akhbar newspaper reported on the findings of a Ministry of Justice fact-finding commission that has been tasked with investigating foreign funding of Egyptian NGOs. The commission found that US$40 million of the $65 million already provided by the U.S. in democracy assistance has gone to two American organizations, NDI and IRI. The report also revealed that a Qatari institution has donated more than LE180 million to the Salafi organization, Ansar al-Sunnah al-Mohamadeya, while a Kuwaiti institution donated over LE114 million to the same group. [Al-Akhbar, Arabic, 11/16/2011] [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/16/2011]

MILITARY TRIALS:

The Journalists Syndicate issued a statement urging its members to reject summons by military prosecutors in press-related cases. Since the SCAF assumed power in February, an estimated 12,000 Egyptians have been tried by military tribunals, including several bloggers and activists accused of instigating unrest or defaming the military. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/16/2011]

ECONOMY:

Egypt will receive $200 million to support its budget from the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) this month and a second tranche of financing worth $270 million in December. Egypt has so far received $1 billion in budgetary support from Gulf countries to help to cover its deficit. [Reuters, English, 11/16/2011]

The Cabinet has drafted decree outlining wage caps for government employees in administrative roles that would limit salaries to 36 times the minimum wage of a third grade employee in the same government body. Since taking office last March, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has promised to cap salaries for top government officials. [Al-Ahram, English, 11/16/2011]

EGYPT-ISRAEL RELATIONS:

Israel has stepped up its military presence and intelligence activity along the border with Egypt in anticipation of terrorist attacks. Chief of Israeli General Staff Benny Gantz said that Israel is also constructing a 240-kilometer barrier along the border. [Al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/16/2011]

Photo Credit: Al-Masry al-Youm

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