Top News: Constitution Panel Elects Moussa Head, Sets 75 Percent Vote to Approve Articles

Former liberal-leaning presidential candidate Amr Moussa has been elected ٍas head of Egypt’s fifty-strong constitution-drafting committee.The committee agreed on Monday that controversial articles will be settled by a 75 percent vote if their initial referral to a specialized ‘consensus committee’ fails to garner the agreement of all members. 


Egypt’s Shafiq says won’t run for presidency if al-Sisi does
Ahmed Shafiq, runner up in Egypt’s 2012 presidential polls, said on Sunday he would not rule out running for the presidency again if people “insist and commission” him for the post. However, Shafiq, prime minister under former autocratic president Hosni Mubarak, said he would not run for the presidency if Army Chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi decides to stand as a candidate in the elections. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Al Arabiya, 9/9/2013]

ANHRI decries Minister of Justice bills
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) accused Egyptian authorities of tailoring legislations to enforce arbitrary restrictions on all those who criticize or oppose the regime. In a statement released on Sunday, ANHRI criticized two bills drafted by Minister of Justice Adel Abdel Hameed; one amending the article on terrorism in the Penal Code and the other amending the article on preventive detention in the Criminal Procedure Law. It stated the legislative amendments drafted by the minister gives the government wide jurisdiction to face its opponents, warning that this might threaten the legitimacy of the outcomes of the current transitional period. [DNE, 9/9/2013]

Also of Interest:
Strong Egypt figures resign over Aboul Fotouh “bias to Brotherhood” | Egypt Independent
Nasserist Sabbahy demands Egypt’s government addresses social justice | Ahram Online
“Coup has failed,” Essam al-Erian claims | Egypt Independent
Head of Egyptian Trade Union Federation sacked | DNE


Constitution panel elects Moussa head, sets 75 percent vote to approve articles
Former liberal-leaning presidential candidate Amr Moussa has been elected ٍas head of Egypt’s fifty-strong constitution-drafting committee. Both Moussa – a former foreign minister – and chairman of the Syndicate of Lawyers and the Arab Nasserist Party Sameh Ashour announced they would stand for the post of chairman. The assembly chose three deputies for the president, prominent heart surgeon Magdy Yaaqoub, representative for the National Council for Human Rights Mona Zulfaqar and former Muslim Brotherhood prominent member and Islamic thinker Kamal al-Helbawy. The assembly also chose constitutional expert Gaber Nassar as the assembly’s rapporteur, while head of Writers’ Union Mohamed Salmawy was selected as the assembly’s official spokesman. On Sunday, Salmawy said that amending the suspended charter is “not possible,” calling it “the most backward constitution in Egypt’s history.” The committee agreed on Monday that controversial articles will be settled by a 75 percent vote if their initial referral to a specialized ‘consensus committee’ fails to garner the agreement of all members. The constitutional panel also decided on delegating one of its members to be responsible for speaking on its behalf and issuing press releases, maintaining that the rest of the members refrain from talking to the media about the progress of their work. While the Salafi Nour Party announced Sunday it will participate in the fifty member committee, party head Younis Makhioun rejected statements by Moussa, which described the committee’s work as closer to drafting a new constitution than amending articles from the suspended 2012 Constitution. Salah Abdel Maaboud, a member of the party’s upper board, also said the group would take all necessary measures to preserve the Islamic identity of the new constitution. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, SIS, 9/9/2013]

Top Muslim Brotherhood leaders referred to criminal court; Morsi faces fresh charge
Egypt’s prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat has referred Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and fourteen others to the criminal court for alleged involvement in July 15 Giza clashes that left five dead. Badie was referred to court along with Mohamed al-Beltagy, Bassem Ouda and Essam al-Erian – the latter has not yet been arrested – in addition to Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazy and leading member of al-Jama’a al-Islamiya Assem Abdel Maged, who is also still at large, and nine others. Meanwhile, a Cairo court adjourned on Saturday the trials of Beltagy and Hegazy to October 5 on charges of kidnapping and assaulting a policeman. Egyptian prosecutors slapped Saturday ousted president Mohamed Morsi with a fresh charge of “insulting the judicial authority.” Morsi’s detention was extended by four more days pending investigations into the new charge. On Sunday, Egypt prosecutors also extended the detentions of Salafist leader Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail and Muslim Brotherhood leaders Helmy al-Gazzar, Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud, and former MP Mohamed al-Omda for another fifteen days on Sunday. Officials at the Doctors Syndicate said that on Saturday police arrested Dr. Abdel Nasser Saqr (Giza branch head), Dr. Ahmed al-Sarwy (syndicate member), and Dr. Hatem Nashar (head of the Fayoum branch and leading Brotherhood figure), while Engineers Syndicate representatives said the security forces arrested about fifteen engineers recently on charges of inciting violence and killing protesters. Mohsen Rady, a former member of parliament and the former head of the Culture and Information Committee at the People’s Assembly was arrested on Friday. East Cairo Attorney General Mostafa Khater referred six bodyguards of Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie to court on charges of possession of unlicensed weapons. Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim submitted a request to top prosecutor Hisham Barakat on Saturday to investigate a criminal claim filed against sports commentator Alaa Sadek. The claim accused Sadek of libel and defamation against the Interior Ministry through his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Acting president of Zagazig University, Ashraf al-Shihy on Sunday referred Mahmoud Ezzat, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and professor of medicine, and Mohamed al-Gawady, a professor of medicine, to an investigative committee for being absent from work without permission. Shehy denied that they were being investigated for their political affiliations. [DNE, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, 9/9/2013]

No probe by Egypt’s prosecutor against political activists: Judicial source
Local media outlets published claims on Saturday that the public prosecutor is investigating complaints accusing a number of prominent activists of illegally receiving funds from the United States, citing a Wikileaks cable. On Sunday, meanwhile, the Middle East News Agency, a state-run outlet, denied news of any investigation. Various media outlets, including Reuters and Ahram Online, had circulated a story confirming that the prosecutor received complaints against thirty-five political figures, including activist Ahmed Maher, blogger Ahmed Douma, and liberal politician Amr Hamzawy, that accused them of accepting money from the United States and other countries. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 9/8/2013]

Socialist activist Mohamadein released without bail
The Suez Prosecution on Saturday discharged Haitham Mohamadein, a Revolutionary Socialists movement leader, until the National Security Apparatus submits its final report and the prosecution views the leaflets allegedly found in his possession. According to one of the twenty lawyers present during the investigations, Ramy Ghanem, the accusations directed at Mohamedein ranged from “forming a secret organization which aims at shifting the structure of society, to incitement and assistance to subvert public institutions, harming social peace” among a number of other “political accusations.” Ghanem added, “Mohamedein will be summoned to court if the prosecutors find valid cause for trial.” Meanwhile, dozens of Revolutionary Socialists and April 6 Youth members organized a protest in front of the High Court of Justice to demand his release after he had been arrested in Suez on Thursday. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 9/8/2013]

Also of interest:
Court orders ex-minister to return thousands to state budget | Egypt Independent
Court approves freezing assets of Mubarak-era journalist | Aswat Masriya
Autopsy of Republican Guards club victims: Shot by live ammunition | Ahram Online
Al-Azhar agrees with churches leaders to maintain Egypt’s Islamic identity in constitution | Egypt Independent
Egypt liberals tighten grip on constitution drafting | Ahram Online


Egypt’s investment plan for invigorating the economy
Minister of Finance Ahmed Galal said that the government will announce over the coming few days the socio-economic plan to be implemented within six months with the aim of accelerating the national economy wheel. The aggregate investments of the plan hit some EGP 85 billion, allocated for establishing the infrastructure that would benefit the coming generations and accomplish the standing and suspended projects with the contribution of some Arab countries, he added. [SIS, 9/9/2013]

Egypt to establish unified database to target subsidies to needy
Six Egyptian ministries have agreed to cooperate to establish a unified database of citizens in a move designed to ensure state subsidies reach those in need, said Finance Minister Ahmed Galal via a press release on Thursday. Egypt is currently introducing a new smart-card system for the distribution of subsidized fuel. The cards, which are accessible to all citizens with a national identification number, are initially intended to curb smuggling, which officials claim eats up around 20 percent of subsidized fuel, rather than ration fuel. [Ahram Online, 9/6/2013]

Also of Interest:
Sawiris interested in an Italian telecom investment | DNE
Trade Minister: Int’l trade point to be set up in Sinai | SIS
Stock exchange denies being privatized | DNE
Egypt’s foreign reserve reaches $18.9 billion | Aswat Masriya, DNE
BP says makes ‘significant’ Egypt gas discovery | Ahram Online
Finance ministry talks wages | DNE
Finance ministry completes industrial land reassessment | DNE


Journalists Syndicate says charges against arrested journalists unclear
The Journalists Syndicate expressed concern Friday about the arrest of journalists Ahmed Abu Draa in North Sinai and Brotherhood leader Mohsen Rady. The syndicate issued a statement calling on the security authorities to clarify the charges brought against both journalists. The statement stressed that the journalists should be tried before a civilian court, not a military one. Meanwhile, Reporters without Borders has demanded the “immediate and unconditional release” of Abu Draa, while the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights “strongly condemned” his arrest. Abu Draa, who is accused of publishing false news concerning the armed forces, reported on September 3 that four people were injured, and six houses and a mosque were destroyed during an aircraft bombing of al-Thoma and al-Moqata’a villages. The military spokesperson denied the report. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE, 9/8/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt NGOs denounce military trials of civilians | AFP, Egypt Independent
CAPMAS: More than 16 million illiterate people in Egypt in 2012 | Egypt Independent
Small pro-military rallies on Friday in Cairo, Suez, Assiut | Ahram Online
Clashes flare at pro-Morsi marches across Egypt, two dead | Reuters, Ahram Online
46 percent of Egyptians say curfew affected income, 73 percent feel unsafe: Baseera polls | Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent
New Qatari satellite to maneuver around Al-Jazeera shutdown | Egypt Independent


Jihadist group claims bomb targeting Egypt minister
The Sinai-based Islamist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility on Sunday for an attempt last week to kill the Egyptian interior minister in Cairo, and promised more attacks in revenge for a crackdown on Egypt’s Islamists. However, Egypt’s interior ministry is still investigating the statement released by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, state news agency MENA reported on Sunday. A high-ranking police source told MENA the statement “raises suspicions” because it comes four days after the attack. The source added that the statement may be true or an attempt to “mislead investigating authorities.” Security forces have arrested eighty people and are currently questioning them as part of their investigations into the incident. [DNE, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Ahram Online, 9/9/2013]

Egypt army attacks suspected Sinai Islamists as militancy spreads
An Egyptian military official says troops and tanks backed by helicopter gunships are sweeping through villages in the northern Sinai peninsula near the border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip, on the third day of a major offensive against suspected Islamic extremists. At least twenty suspects were killed and twenty arrested in the previous two days. A security forces officer and two soldiers were killed Saturday night, after militants placed an improvised explosive device (IED) near military vehicles in Sheikh Zuweid, close to where security forces had been conducting military operations earlier in the day. Meanwhile, at least nine militants were killed in a military operation that took place earlier on the same day during which military vehicles fired on several “terrorist” sites in al-Thoma, al-Goura, al-Moqata’a and al-Mahdeya areas near the border towns of Sheikh Zuwayed and Rafah. [AP, DNE, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Mada Masr, 9/9/2013]

Also of Interest:
Stork detained as spy in Egypt found dead | AP
Improvised device explodes at Cairo police station, no injuries | Reuters
Prison rules strictly applied to Brotherhood detainees | Egypt Independent
Authorities raid military clothes factory | Egypt Independent
University guards granted powers of arrest to counter sabotage: Deputy PM | Ahram Online
Egypt police defuse bombs on railroad tracks | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Egypt suspends Suez-Ismailia railway activity following attempted explosion | Ahram Online,
Presidential Adviser: Curfew could be maintained with reduced hours | SIS


Kerry: Egyptian FM confirmed that Egypt is moving on right track
Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil al-Araby, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, among others, headed to Paris on Saturday for a two-day visit to participate in the meeting of the Arab Committee on the Palestinian Cause in Paris. Fahmy met with his US counterpart in Paris after the Committee meeting. Fahmy and Kerry discussed the “current status of bilateral relations” with the United States and “the developments of the situation in Egypt,” said the ministry spokesperson in a statement on Sunday. Kerry announced that Fahmy told him during their deliberations that Egypt is moving on the right track and that the interim government is committed to following the roadmap set out by the armed forces following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July. [DNE, SIS, Egypt Independent, 9/9/2013]

Also of Interest:
Gaza Tamarod’s founding conference to be held in Cairo | DNE
Hundreds deported from Libya for invalid visas | DNE
Fatah-Hamas accusations continue | DNE
Demonstration in Cairo against military intervention in Syria | Ahram Online, DNE
US congress members speak out on ONTV | DNE
Egyptian delegation joins UNHCR conference in Geneva | DNE

Image: Photo: World Economic Forum