Top News: Egypt Arrests 3 Suspected al-Qaeda Militants

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Egyptian police arrested three men suspected of planning attacks on targets in Cairo and Alexandria, including a foreign embassy, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim announced Saturday. 


After two-week hiatus, Shura Council to tackle raft of thorny legislation
Resuming its plenary meetings on Monday and Tuesday, the Islamist-led Shura Council’s agenda will likely be topped by proposed amendments to existing legislation governing income tax and custom duties. The income tax law was debated two weeks ago, but final approval of was postponed to allow the government to present the council with accurate figures on income tax revenues. On Tuesday, the council is due to discuss a new draft law aimed at setting up a government-run institution specifically tasked with offering loans to army officers. Meanwhile, council committees are currently discussing amendments to a handful of controversial draft laws. At the top of these is a 26-article government-drafted protest law. On Sunday, the Shura Council discussed several media related issues, and approved the issuance of several newspapers. The Shura Council has also called for Israel’s ambassador to Egypt to be expelled due to the recent Aqsa attacks. The Council is also discussing the budget after a 6 million EGP error in extra revenue was discovered by Mohamed al-Khouli, a member of the Shura Council’s Economic Committee. Al-Khouli had recently undergone a careful review of the country’s public budget, and determined that a grave financial error had been committed that could only be attributed to either ignorance or malicious intent. [Ahram Online, SIS, DNE, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), 5/13/2013]

Egypt opposition convenes to discuss latest updates, member harassed at airport
Egypt’s main opposition alliance, the National Salvation Front, will meet on Monday to discuss the latest political and economic developments. The NSF is also expected to discuss future work plans and strategies, the state news agency reported. One opposition figure, Emad Gad, criticized attempts by Egyptian authorities to arrest him at Cairo International Airport on Wednesday. Gad, a former MP and leading member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, said that he had been stopped at the airport, ostensibly as their names were similar to those of “terrorists.” Gad said his passport was referred to the national security bureau, although the matter was subsequently dropped by security officials. Ahmed Saleh, the airport’s public relations director, told Daily News Egypt that “the incident never occurred”. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, DNE, 5/13/2013]

Egypt Judges Club to take part in planned ‘justice conference’
At a Sunday meeting with members of Egypt’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), the Egyptian Judges Club announced its decision to join a planned ‘justice conference’ to be held within the context of an ongoing dispute between Egypt’s judiciary on one side and Muslim Brotherhood MPs and the presidency on the other. A controversial judicial authority law recently proposed in the upper house of Egypt’s parliament by MPs allied with the Muslim Brotherhood was met with sharp criticism by many judges and openly opposed by the Judges Club. The bill, if passed, would lead to the retirement of a quarter of Egypt’s judges, a move many judicial officials perceive as a frontal assault on Egypt’s judiciary. [Ahram Online, 5/12/2013]

Also of Interest:
Al-Katatni promises a torture-free Egypt | DNE
Brotherhood hopes for cooperation with new liberal leader | Ahram Online
President consults with Qandil to change the number of governors | AMAY (Arabic)


Constitutional Court adjourns key lawsuits impacting Egypt’s political direction
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) adjourned three politically significant lawsuit: the constitutionality of the Shura Council, the legality of the second Constituent Assembly which drafted the country’s current constitution, and two appeals against the emergency law, to 2 June, 2013. The case regarding the upper house of parliament had been referred to the State Commissioners Authority, an advisory panel of experts, to give its recommendations since the status of the legislature has changed after the adoption of the constitution. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 5/12/2013]

Retrial of Mubarak, sons, ex-interior minister postponed to June
Presiding judge Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi on Saturday announced that proceedings in the retrial of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, his two sons, former interior minister Habib al-Adly, and six of the latter’s top aides would be postponed until 8 June to allow the court to review some 55,000 pages of documentation. In Saturday’s session, the defendants denied all charges. Mubarak, his two sons, al-Adly, and six of the latter’s top aides were present at the Police Academy in the capital’s New Cairo district on Saturday morning where they face retrial for a handful of charges, Egyptian state news agency MENA has reported. Newswires reported an interview with Hosni Mubarak who allegedly said he is dismayed at the country’s state of affairs and particularly the plight of the poor, but his lawyer denied that the interview ever took place. [Ahram Online, Reuters, DNE, AP, 5/12/2013]

April 6 Founder Ahmed Maher faces investigation despite release
Egypt’s prosecutor general ordered Saturday the release of recently-detained founder of the April 6 Youth Movement Ahmed Maher. Maher was released on Saturday morning having spent a night in Al-Aqrab maximum-security prison. Despite his release, Maher is still being investigated alongside four others for their involvement in throwing ladies’ underwear at the interior minister’s home.  Speaking a day after his arrest, Maher said, “What is taking place now is worse than what was being experienced during Mubarak’s time." On Monday, Maher survived a serious car accident in which his car was written off. According to April 6 founding member Mohamed Adel, it is unclear if the accident was caused by a criminal act or not. [Ahram Online, Reuters, DNE, 5/13/2013]

Also of Interest:
Khaled Said’s case set for retrial | DNE
Lawyers file corruption lawsuit against judges | DNE
Case to halt court order reinstating Abdel Meguid Mahmoud postponed | Watan (Arabic)
Egypt appeal court finds 6 solidarity protesters innocent | Ahram Online
Mubarak-era trade minister remains on Egypt watch-list | Ahram Online
Mubarak-era interior minister stands trial over graft charges | Aswat Masriya, EGYNews
Egyptian appeal court cancels Ezz’s conviction, jail sentence | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, SIS


Egypt-IMF talks ongoing: Minister
Egypt’s talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over an elusive $4.8 billion loan are “serious,” and the negotiations with the global lender are ongoing, said the newly-appointed finance minister on Sunday. Fayad Abdel-Moneim stated at a press conference that the IMF has asked for a reduction in Egypt’s budget deficit, but had not specifically requested the removal of subsidies. Cutting subsidies, particularly energy subsidies, will be a core part of the Egyptian government’s attempt to reduce the budget deficit, according to previous statements by governmental officials. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 5/12/2013]

Downgrading credit rating not to affect Sukuk application, others hurt
Finance Minister Fayyad Abdel Monem stressed that downgrading Egypt’s credit rating would not affect the Sukuk (Islamic bonds) application. A number of banks, however, have stated that they consider themselves Egypt’s most affected economic sector by the country’s repeated credit downgrades since the outbreak of the 25 January Revolution, seeing as they are the primary owners of government debt securities. The downgrading of Egypt’s sovereign rating, by Moody’s to CAA1 and Standard & Poor’s to B-, will ultimately raise the cost of pharmaceuticals in Egypt due to the effect of the country’s credit score on the financial costs of credit and foreign currencies, according to a number of industry experts. [SIS, DNE, 5/13/2013]

Ration cards for subsidized fuel come to Egypt in fall: Minister
Egyptian authorities will distribute in October smart cards as part of its new system for rationing government-subsidized fuel, Finance Minister Fayad Abdel-Moneim said. Under the new system, consumers will be provided with limited amounts of subsidized fuel, beyond which they will have to pay at market prices. Egypt, which spent LE120 billion in fuel subsidies this fiscal year, according to former Petroleum Minister Osama Kamal, is obliged to implement drastic cuts to rein in a galloping budget deficit and secure a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan. [Ahram Online, 5/12/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt tourism still struggling despite upswing: Industry insiders | Ahram Online
Morsi urges rapid implementation for Suez Canal Corridor | DNE, SIS, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic)
Investment Minister: Budget deficit 11.5% of GDP for the 2012-2013 fiscal year | DNE
Egyptian Central Bank announces key interest rates will not change | DNE
Egypt bourse hits 10-week high on positive business outlook | Ahram Online
Non-oil exports up by 20% in April | SIS


Egypt arrests 3 suspected al-Qaeda militants
Egyptian police arrested three men suspected of planning attacks on targets in Cairo and Alexandria, including a foreign embassy, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim announced Saturday. While repeatedly saying the group did not represent an al Qaeda cell in Egypt, Ibrahim said it was linked to al Qaeda in western Asia and "elements responsible for receiving terrorist elements on the Turkish borders" – an allusion to militants overseeing the flow of Islamist fighters into Syria’s civil war. The Bara’a Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) released a statement on Saturday condemning the arrests, stating that the materials found with the alleged plotters were not explosives. [Ahram Online, Reuters, AP, DNE, 5/11/2013]

General signals Egypt army staying out of politics
The army is not the answer to Egypt’s political problems, the army chief said on Saturday, urging Egyptians to find a way to get along in comments that appeared to rule out any military intervention in the country’s political standoff. General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in comments reported online by the state-run al-Ahram newspaper, called for "a framework for consensus". "The alternative is extremely dangerous," he said. Al-Sisi also stressed Saturday his refusal to resort to military force in order to solve an ongoing saga over Egypt’s share of the Nile water. Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Bahaa Eddin said that Juba, the capital of South Sudan, will host meetings of the River Nile water ministerial council by the end of June. [Reuters, DNE, Ahram Online, SIS, 5/13/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt seeks developing military relations with Saudi Arabia | SIS, Ahram
Minors arrested near Interior Ministry | DNE
Airport denies detaining Emad Gad | DNE
Al-Da’wa Al-Salafia demands dismissal of interior minister | DNE


Autopsy report: Activist Ahmed al-Gendi died in a car accident
On Monday, the committee tasked with preparing an autopsy report on the death of activist Ahmed al-Gendi stated that the cause of death was the result of a car accident, rather than torture. The committee stated that al-Gendi’s injuries were consistent with a car accident, adding that the superficial burns on his body were the result of asphalt burns. The committee added that a previous autopsy report stating that the activist had died from the result of torture was inaccurate. [Shorouk (Arabic), 5/13/2013]

Egypt’s 6 April joins signature drive, holds sit-in against President
Egypt’s 6 April Youth Group has joined the recently launched ‘Rebel Movement’ (Tamarod) campaign, which aims to collect citizens’ signatures for a petition calling for a vote of no-confidence in the administration of President Mohamed Morsi. Khaled al-Masri, 6 April spokesman, stated on Sunday that the new signature drive represented a "peaceful, forward-thinking and democratic means by which to oppose the current regime. The campaign announced on Sunday it had collected 2,029,592 signatures throughout Egypt, withdrawing confidence in Mohamed Morsi as president. At least three members of the Tamarod campaign have been arrested outside Sohag University on Saturday. [Ahram Online, 5/12/2013]

Egypt youth group calls for solidarity protest for convicted activists
Egypt’s ‘Free Front for Peaceful Change’ youth group has called for a Monday demonstration outside a court in New Cairo to voice solidarity with six activists recently slapped with five-year prison sentences. The activists were sentenced last week following their arrest outside a court in New Cairo where they had been protesting in solidarity with several students arrested for alleged affiliation with Egypt’s anti-government ‘Black Bloc’ movement. Scuffles also broke out between lawyers and security personnel outside the New Cairo courthouse as the session of activist Ahmed Doma, accused of insulting the president, was about to start Monday. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 5/13/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian teacher penalized for ‘politicized’ exam question | Ahram Online
Intellectuals decry sacking of head of Egypt’s book agency | Ahram Online, DNE
6 April Democratic Front begin sit-in for detained member | DNE, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
Copt charged with killing converted Muslim wife commits suicide | Ahram Online, AP, Aswat Masriya


Egypt’s Morsi, Abbas to discuss inter-Palestinian reconciliation
President Mohamed Morsi is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday morning to discuss Egypt’s role in finalising a proposed reconciliation deal between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas. The meeting will coincide with another meeting intended to resume the reconciliation committee’s work with the Egyptian intelligence apparatus. This meeting will include taking suggestions with regards to the formation of a transitional government that can be trusted by both factions, according to Fatah delegation head Azzam al-Ahmed. [Ahram Online, DNE, 5/12/2013]

Egypt receives $ 3 bn in additional aid from Qatar
Egyptian Finance Minister Fayyad Abdel Moneim said on Sunday that Egypt expects to receive additional aid from Qatar worth three billion dollars. The Finance Minister confirmed the additional aid to Aswat Masriya but declined to give further information, saying that the details can be acquired from the Central Bank. The Qatari government has pledged three billion dollars in additional assistance to the Egyptian economy, following the completion of the issuance of bonds that the Egyptian government has already agreed to purchase, reported a local newspaper on Saturday. [Aswat Masriya, DNE, 5/12/2013]

Also of Interest:
White House official visits Cairo | DNE
Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya demands removal from US terror list | DNE
Egypt court adjourns case against Gaddafi aide | Ahram Online, Reuters, Ahram
Egypt calls for a meeting to discuss Muslims’ suffering in Myanmar | SIS
Foreign minister to participate in OIC meeting on Mali | DNE
Irrigation minister: Egypt not opposed to Renaissance Dam | DNE
Foreign minister talks Syria with Special Envoy Brahimi | DNE
Al-Haddad delivers message to Turkey | DNE
Egyptian government asks Turkey for help to revive economy | DNE

Photo: Ministry of Interior Facebook Page


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