Undeterred after a day of sporadic violence, Egyptians on Wednesday lined up to vote on the second and final day of a key referendum on the country’s new constitution.


Suez port chiefs allegedly caught red-handed in bribe scandal
The Administrative Control Authority allegedly caught Captain al-Saeed Ali Habib, director general of al-Adabeya seaport, red-handed as he was receiving a bribe from a private company executive in order to facilitate its work and commit illegal actions. Meanwhile, Wagdy Mohamed al-Noweishy, director of Ataka fishing port in Suez, was also arrested while allegedly taking bribes from the chair of a fish-drying plant for exporting banned fish and smuggling subsidized diesel fuel. [MENA, 1/15/2014]


Up to eleven killed and 249 arrested on day one of the constitutional referendum
While the High Elections Commission released a statement stating that the first day of the constitutional referendum passed without incident, the first day of voting was marked by violence, leaving between nine and eleven dead. Security forces arrested 249 people accused of “rioting and attempting to hinder the voting process.” The ministry of interior claimed all those arrested are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Minya, sixty-one Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters were arrested on charges of rioting and attempt to disrupt the referendum on the constitution. In Giza, eighteen Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested after gunmen opened fire near a polling station. Police forces securing the referendum in Minya found five improvised bombs inside four voting locations. Monitoring groups Shayfeencom, Judges’ Club, and Egyptian National Council for Human Rights reported receiving dozens of complaints nationwide. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information witnessed attempt to influence voters towards the “yes” and “no” votes. Two polling station employees in Alexandria were arrested for telling voters to vote “no.” Despite clashes and violations, there is a festive atmosphere, with plenty of dancing at a number of polling stations across the country. Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy also hailed the high turnout as evidence of Egyptians embracing their national role. [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, 1/15/2014]

Day two of the referendum marked with arrests and boycotts
Undeterred after a day of sporadic violence, Egyptians on Wednesday lined up to vote on the second and final day of a key referendum on the country’s new constitution. Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi blocked the Cairo Metro on Wednesday afternoon as they marched along the track of the southern Ain Helwan station. They organized human chains in several cities outside the capital calling for a boycott of the referendum. Muslim Brotherhood supporters staged two protests east and west of Alexandria. Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the second day of voting was going smoothly thanks to security efforts. Those efforts include blocking the entrance to Tahrir Square and the threat of using live ammunition on anyone who attempts to tamper with ballot boxes. The High Elections Committee has reported a high turnout and only minor incidents in Giza, where a handmade bomb was found. [AP, Ahram Online,1/15/2014]

Also of interest:
‘Yes’ campaign promoters seen across Egypt | Mada Masr
Armed forces use ‘morale support cars’ to urge participation in referendum | Egypt Independent
Activist Israa Abdel Fattah slapped and kicked out of polling station | Egypt Independent
Hosni Mubarak urges ‘yes’ vote in referendum | Ahram Online
144 employees excluded from referendum supervision for Brotherhood leaning | Egypt Independent


World Bank: Economic growth in Egypt expected to slowly pick up
The World Bank’s biannual Global Economic Prospects Report released this week predicted Egypt’s GDP growth rate to increase from an estimated two percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014 and 3.3 percent in 2016. This expected growth rate would be the highest since 2010 (about 5.1 percent), but is still much lower than Egypt’s potential or pre-revolutionary growth rates. The report stated that Egypt’s economy has been down in the past year, with industrial output falling by forty-four percent in three months through October, and a fall in FDI net inflows by about 14.5 percent. [DNE, 1/15/2014]

Also of interest:
Egyptian government striving to restructure energy subsidies | DNE
Egypt economy to become 22nd strongest by 2028: Cebr | DNE
Egypt may receive an additional $6 billion from Gulf countries: Dcode | DNE


Activist and Social Democratic Party member Hossam Hassan released
Prominent activist and leading member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party Hossam Hassan was released in Assiut on Tuesday following a weeks-long detention period over his role in recent protests. Hassan was arrested last November while holding a silent protest outside Assiut’s security directorate against police violence during a demonstration near the parliament in Cairo, after a controversial law banning protests without prior police authorization was passed. [Ahram Online, 1/15/2014]

Also of interest:
Three abducted Egyptian trade unionists freed, government official still held | Ahram Online
Military Media Center inaugurated | Egypt Independent
Ex-Nour MP assaulted by Brotherhood in Giza | Ahram Online


UN, US, EU weigh in on Egyptian referendum
The United States and the United Nations have urged that authorities in Egypt ensure the voting for the constitutional referendum is peaceful, and the rights’ of citizens are respected, while the European Union praised Egypt for going forward with its roadmap. A Tuesday statement released by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that Ban is “closely” monitoring the referendum in Egypt and stressed the importance of respecting “freedom of assembly and expression, as well as commitment to non-violence.” US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf condemned the Tuesday violence at polling stations in Egypt, and emphasized the need for protection of civil rights. “It should be clear to all Egyptians that violence has not and will not move Egypt’s political transition forward,” said Harf in a Tuesday press briefing. Speaking to press in Kuwait, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton praised Egypt’s interim government for its transition to democracy. “I am very pleased to see that the referendum is taking place and we have from the European Union observers who are helping to ensure the process goes forward,” said Ashton. [DNE, Egypt Independent, 1/15/2014]

Also of interest:
FM: Egypt’s participation in Syria donor conference meant to assuage Syrians suffering | SIS
Egypt, Kuwait FMs discuss bilateral ties | SIS