Top News: Cairo Administrative Court to Review Legitimacy of Referendum

Talaat Abdallah AP.jpg

The Cairo Administrative Court on Thursday is set to look into a complaint that calls for the cancellation of the second phase of the referendum on the constitution slated for Saturday, in addition to the annulment of the result of the first phase, which took place 15 December.


Presidential spokesperson: National dialogue on election law after referendum
The fourth session of the national dialogue called for by President Mohamed Morsi with political forces, legal experts and public figures, on Wednesday discussed the future course of the dialogue after the referendum on the new draft constitution, be it approved or rejected, presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali said. Ali wrote on Facebook that if the draft constitution is approved, the attendees agreed to discuss the parliamentary elections law and other articles of the draft for which amendments have been proposed, in order to present them to the next Parliament. The three Egyptian churches decided to participate in the fourth session. [Egypt Independent, 12/19/2012]

Sources: Morsi to announce remaining Shura Council members Friday
Official sources close to the Egyptian presidency revealed to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper Thursday that President Mohamed Morsi would announce the names of the remaining third of the Shura Council Friday, before the second stage of the referendum on the constitution Saturday. [Ahram Online, 12/20/2012]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s opposition forces remain steadfast against constitution | Ahram Online
April 6 accuses Jama’a al-Islamiya of assaulting members in Minya | Egypt Independent


Top prosecutor backtracks on resignation, says judicial source
A top judicial official said Thursday that Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah has backtracked on the resignation he submitted to the council. Abdallah submitted a request to head of the Supreme Judicial Council Mohamed Metwally Thursday requesting the cancellation of his resignation, Supreme Judicial Council Secretary General Mohamed Eid Mahgoub said. The news comes shortly after statements by Abdallah in which he said he submitted his resignation out of respect for his profession and not due to protests by judges.[Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 12/20/2012]

Cairo Administrative Court to review legitimacy of referendum
The Cairo Administrative Court on Thursday is set to look into a complaint that calls for the cancellation of the second phase of the referendum on the constitution slated for Saturday, in addition to the annulment of the result of the first phase, which took place 15 December. The complaint is in objection to the holding of the referendum on two separate phases, a week apart, which allegedly violates set stipulations on the referendum. The complaint notes that the referendum process contravenes Article 60 of the 19 March Constitutional Referendum that delineated the interim transitional period, noting that the referendum should take place on one day, not in two phases. [Ahram Online, DNE, 12/20/2012]

Court of Cassation accepts appeal of Khaled Said trial defendants
The Court of Cassation accepted early Thursday the appeal presented by policemen accused and convicted of murdering Khaled Said and ordered their trial in front of a new court. Alexandria Criminal Court sentenced policemen Mahmoud Salah Mahmoud and Awad Ismail Soliman to seven years in jail for illegal imprisonment and use of torture and violence. The court’s ruling was already considered shocking to the family and supporters of the late 28-year-old Alexandrian. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, EGYNews (Arabic), 12/20/2012]

Secretary-General of committee overseeing referendum officially resigns
The Supreme Electoral Commission accepts resignation of the secretary-general for the committee overseeing the constitutional referendum, Zaghloul El-Balshi.
El-Balshi said he had tried to stay in his post until the poll ends on 22 December but had to undergo eye-surgery, according to a judicial source. However, conflicting statements continue to emerge as a deputy justice minister told Turkish news agency Anadolu Thursday that the government had not accepted the resignation, while others indicated that he was simply on sick leave. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, El Watan (Arabic) 12/20/2012]

Also of Interest:
SS officer found innocent over Sayed Belal torture case | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Elections commission says enough judges for referendum day two | Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic)
State Authority Judges to monitor second phase | DNE
Prepping for round two | DNE


Egyptian pound to sharply drop, inflation to hike in 2013: Economist
The Egyptian Pound (LE) is under severe pressure and will continue to drop in value after the postponement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) $4.8 billion loan, a new report by investment bank EFG-Hermes says. In the past two weeks, the Egyptian pound lost some 1.5 per cent of its value versus the dollar, reaching LE6.15 to the dollar. EFG-Hermes, the largest investment bank in Egypt and the Middle East, published a report Tuesday forecasting a larger depreciation to the pound by the end of 2013, to reach 6.6 instead of 6.4. [Ahram Online, 12/19/2012]

Egypt govt to amend controversial new tax rates: industry minister
The highly controversial new tax structure ratified by President Mohamed Morsi and revoked shortly after due to the public outcry is going to be revised to become fairer and less burdensome on low-income classes, confirmed Hatem Saleh, minister of industry and foreign trade, at a press conference Tuesday. Amendments will address in particular sales taxes on specific commodities, as the government is planning to replace products that were included in the recently-announced hikes, such as cigarettes, steel and fertilisers, with other consumer goods. [Ahram Online, DNE, 12/20/2012]

Dubai bank ENBD to buy BNP Paribas’ Egypt arm for $500 mln

Emirates NBD, Dubai’s largest lender, has agreed to buy a 95.2 per cent stake in BNP Paribas’ Egyptian arm from the French bank in a deal which values the entire business at $500 million. ENBD, part-owned by the Dubai government, will make an offer to minority shareholders for the remaining 4.8 percent stake, the Dubai bank said in a statement on Thursday. The deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2013, pending regulatory approval. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 12/20/2012]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s PM in Amman to boost trade and energy ties | Ahram Online,  EGYNews (Arabic)
Egypt govt to revise ‘mazut’ price increase decision | Ahram Online
Egypt officially becomes gas-importing country to meet demand | Egypt Independent
Stock market rises on foreign investments | Egypt Independent, Ahram Online
International bid for new electricity plant | DNE


Abdallah Badr calls for mass protest
Salafi preacher and TV anchor Abdallah Badr called on Tuesday to hold a mass protest in front of the actors’ union, opposing what he called “filthiness in the name of art.” During a TV show broadcast on Al-Hafez TV channel, Badr called for a protest on Friday 28 December. He said that the date was chosen after the constitutional referendum as the country is currently going through a critical political time. Badr was sentenced to one year in jail and a fine of EGP 20,000 on 17 December for insulting TV actress Elham Shahin. [DNE, 12/19/2012]

Fear keeps Egypt’s Christians away from polls

A campaign of intimidation by Islamists left most Christians in this southern Egyptian province too afraid to participate in last week’s referendum on an Islamist-drafted constitution they deeply oppose, residents say. The disenfranchisement is hiking Christians’ worries over their future under empowered Muslim conservatives. [AP, 12/19/2012]

Also of Interest:
Q&A with convicted activist Alber Saber | Egypt Independent
NCW condemns investigations against high school student for protesting | Ahram Online


Sources: Police accuse four Abu Ismail supporters of Wafd Party attack
Four supporters of former Salafi presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail were accused by police of attacking the headquarters of the liberal Wafd Party, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on Tuesday.The paper quoted police sources as saying that the four suspects also managed to detain Kamal al-Daly, the head of Criminal Investigations Department in Giza, during the Saturday attack, which saw dozens of Abu Ismail’s supporters, who call themselves "Hazemoun," attacking the building with birdshot and Molotov cocktails. [Egypt Independent, 12/19/2012]

Also of Interest:

The armed forces prepare to secure the second phase of the referendum on the constitution | Shorouk (Arabic), 12/20/2012]


EU: No aid to Egypt before improving economy and signing IMF loan
The European Union has said it is willing to support Egypt and the “Arab Spring” countries to achieve democracy, but linked aid to Cairo with improving economic conditions and signing the International Monetary Fund loan. EU Ambassador to Egypt James Moran said at a press conference on Wednesday, on the occasion of Ireland assuming the EU presidency, that Europe is monitoring political developments in Egypt and hoping it would withstand the challenges of the transitional period. [Egypt Independent, 12/19/2012]

Egypt’s foreign ministry condemns latest Israeli settlement plans

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday expressed to Israel its objection over a recent plan to build 2,600 new settler units in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. In a press release, the ministry condemned its settlement activities, claiming it significantly hinders Palestinian-Israeli negotiation and peace efforts. It further condemned Israel’s outright violations of international jurisdiction. [Ahram Online, 12/19/2012]

U.N. chief Ban calls for peaceful Egyptian referendum
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Wednesday for the final stage of a referendum in Egypt on a new constitution to be carried out peacefully so the country can focus on building "a pyramid of democracy in the heart of the Arab world. Ban told reporters in New York that all parties must act to prevent the violence, respect human rights, and uphold their national laws. "My hope is for compromise on all side, so that Egypt can focus on its pressing social economic needs and build a pyramid of democracy in the heart of the Arab world," he said. "Egypt’s transition is very important … for the region as a whole." [Reuters, 12/20/2012]

Also of Interest:

Egypt denied access to file on old regime money by Swiss court | DNE
Egypt and Korea sign agreement for new metro trains | Egypt Independent
Jordanian migrant worker crisis spurs Egyptian intervention | DNE

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Photo: Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah (AP)

Image: Talaat%20Abdallah%20AP.jpg