Top News: Brotherhood mulls Cabinet shuffle, NSF rejects US pressure to run in elections

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The Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau discussed a proposal calling for a mandatory Cabinet shuffle ahead of upcoming parliamentary polls as a way to ensure the integrity of the electoral process in a meeting Wednesday. 


Muslim Brotherhood defends rash of govt appointments
The Muslim Brotherhood is defending recent government appointments of group members in response to criticism from other political parties. The Brotherhood on Wednesday acknowledged a report submitted the previous day by Nour Party leader Younis Makhioun saying dozens of Brotherhood members have been tapped as deputy ministers, assistants and municipal officials since President Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the group, took power. In a statement Wednesday, Egypt’s largest Islamist organization justified the appointments, saying the candidates were chosen based on their qualifications and that the Nour complaint is political maneuvering ahead of the elections. [Egypt Independent, 2/28/2013]

Brotherhood mulls Cabinet shuffle, NSF boycott ahead of national dialogue
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau discussed a proposal calling for a mandatory Cabinet shuffle ahead of upcoming parliamentary polls as a way to ensure the integrity of the electoral process in a meeting Wednesday. Unnamed sources who attended the talks said the group would air support for the plan publically so long as the National Salvation Front attends a national dialogue session scheduled Thursday. The NSF and several other opposition groups boycotted the previous dialogue on Tuesday evening. According to NSF members, their refusal to run will delegitimize the polls and embarrass President Mohamed Morsi. Brotherhood lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud said the boycott would not affect the legitimacy of the next parliament. [Egypt Independent, 2/27/2013]

Opposition has until Thursday to submit elections recommendations
The president’s office said opposition groups who boycotted Tuesday’s national dialogue have until Thursday to submit recommendations to ensure upcoming parliamentary elections are free and fair. The news comes a day after main opposition coalition National Salvation Front and several public figures said they will not be participating in the House of Representatives polls, which begin in April. A presidential spokesman said that the office is currently compiling a report with all suggestions given, as well as a number of proposals from political parties who did not participate in the meeting. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 2/27/2013]

Committee sets date to receive MP candidates Saturday
A member of Egypt’s elections committee told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that members will convene on Saturday to determine a date for accepting candidates for members of parliament. The committee is expected to announce its decision in a press conference on Saturday, Abdel Rahman Bahlool said, adding that candidates will probably have to apply sometime between the second half of March and one month before the vote which is due to start on April 22. [Aswat Masriya, SIS, EGYNews (Arabic), 2/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Popular Salafist preacher calls for dismantling Egypt’s NSF | Ahram Online
Jihadi group calls for boycott of polls for violating Sharia | Egypt Independent
Watan Party convenes electoral assembly to choose candidates | Shorouk (Arabic)


Court: Governors will not give permission to build or demolish churches
The Administrative Court has cancelled Hosni Mubarak’s 2005 decision which gave governors the right to issue permits to allow building or demolishing churches. State run EGYNews reported that lawyer Mamdouh Nakhla filed the lawsuit to cancel the ousted president’s decision. The lawsuit argued that Mubarak’s decision was contrary to the constitution and the law. Nakhla added that allowing the governors to issue permits limits the freedom of some citizens in renovating their places of worship. [DNE, 2/27/2013]


Egypt hopes for IMF deal by late April, minister says
Egypt hopes to conclude a deal with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8 billion loan by the end of April, the investment minister said on Thursday. Egypt’s extended election timetable, however, could the loan agreement until the third quarter, Fitch Ratings said Wednesday, warning that such a deal is becoming more pressing as financial conditions deteriorate. In a statement, Fitch said a deal with the International Monetary Fund was vital for a sustained improvement in Egypt’s balance of payments, and to prevent uncontrolled currency depreciation. Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ashraf al-Arabi announced a formal invitation to the IMF to resume talks, expecting the IMF’s technical team to return to Cairo within 10 days to discuss the rescue package. [Reuters/Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 2/28/2013]

Egypt budget deficit hits $17.7 bn in 1st 7 months of 2012/13: Finance ministry
Egypt’s budget deficit increased by 35.8 percent to $17.7 billion from July to January of the 2012/13 fiscal year compared to the same period the previous fiscal year. The budget deficit represents 6.7 percent of Egypt’s GDP. The deficit increase was largely due to an increase in fiscal expenditures by 29.8 percent, which stood at roughly $42.8 billion in the second quarter of the 2012/13 fiscal year, compared to $33 billion for the same period the previous fiscal year. [Ahram Online, 2/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt loses L.E. 100 million daily because of unrest – Minister of Finance | Aswat Masriya
Egypt reconsiders wheat tender system in funding crunch-banks | Reuters/Aswat Masriya
Top importer Egypt boosts price incentives for own wheat farmers | Reuters


Interior Ministry denies New Cairo move is politically motivated
Interior Ministry spokesperson vehemently denied accusations Wednesday that the ministry is moving to New Cairo over fears officials will be targeted ahead of a 9 March ruling in the Port Said football stadium massacre. “It has nothing to do with the verdict in Port Said massacre,” he said. He said some ministry departments would begin moving their offices to New Cairo this week after a year of deliberations. On Wednesday, unnamed sources within the ministry told al-Masry al-Youm that Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim was afraid of repercussions after violence spread during the first verdict on the case 26 January, prompting him to order the move. [Egypt Independent, 2/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Popular Current claims Brotherhood and CSF block medical supplies | DNE
Four arrested for fighting during Port Said rally in Cairo | Egypt Independent
Egypt balloon crash probe rules out criminal activity | Ahram Online
Protesters target state office with Molotov cocktails in Mansoura | Egypt Independent, Ahram Online


Brotherhood member to take top job at Nile News, say sources
Information Minister Salah Abdel Maqsoud, a known Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer, has appointed a Brotherhood member to take over as chief of state-owned Nile News Channel, according to anonymous sources Wednesday. The sources from State Television said Yasser al-Dakany has taken the top job at Nile News and will be in control of its programming and news bulletins. Dakany is the head of the Brotherhood’s satellite channel Egypt 25. If confirmed, Dakany will replace Ahmad Sharaf, who accuses the minister of turning the channel into a Brotherhood mouthpiece. [Egypt Independent, 2/27/2013]

Port Said civil disobedience slowly unravels, Ultras call for withdrawal of confidence in Egypt’s Morsi
An Aswat Masriya eyewitness said on Thursday that armed forces have successfully convinced a number of Port Said protesters to refrain from disrupting key economic installations. Ultras members, who have led the civil disobedience in the governorate, have met with Port Said’s education deputy and agreed to let schools reconvene on Saturday after having suspended classes for 12 days. Meanwhile, a number of Port Said residents on Wednesday attempted to notarize requests to withdraw confidence from President Mohamed Morsi and request that the military take charge of the restive canal city. As a result, the head of the local RER temporarily closed the office, saying the practice was unconstitutional.[Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 2/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Al-Azhar cracks down scholars forging credentials | Egypt Independent
Friday protests planned against unemployment, calls for military rule | Egypt Independent
Tahrir Square arrests include 13 children, says rights group | Egypt Independent
Injured protesters trapped in building by police: Egyptian Popular Current | Ahram Online
Coptic church gets help from liberal groups after Islamists protest construction | Egypt Independent
Port Said protester alleges abuse at hands of police | Egypt Independent


NSF rejects US pressure to run in elections
The National Salvation Front rejected a US State Department request to take part in upcoming parliamentary elections. In a statement Wednesday, the NSF said the request was an attempt to give legitimacy to President Mohamed Morsi’s administration. On Tuesday, US officials urged Egypt’s main opposition coalition to participate in the House of Representative polls, scheduled to start April 22. In response, NSF leader and Dostour Party Chief Mohamed ElBaradei tweeted that Egyptians will not be fooled by a phony democracy despite internal or external pressure. Wahid Abdel Meguid of the NSF said it will not bow to external pressure, stressing that the US administration should not interfere in an internal matter. [Egypt Independent, Ahram (Arabic), 2/28/2013]

Egypt to refute UN committee inquires about torture: Sources
A strongly-worded letter requesting information about reports of systematic torture, at times leading to death, of Egyptian political activists has been sent to the Egyptian government by the Geneva-based Committee Against Torture. According to a source at the ministry of justice, the letter does not conclude firmly that the “alleged cases of torture” occurred but “it does demand clarification on specific cases.” According to the source at the ministry of justice, a “reply to refute the accounts will be sent to the committee.” [Ahram Online, 2/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
US embassy closed Sunday for Kerry visit to Cairo | Ahram Online
PM to visit Iraq in March | SIS

Photo: Egypt Presidency

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