Top News: Egypt Constitution Draft to be Finished Wednesday; President Stands by New Powers, Chief of Staff Says


The head of the assembly drafting Egypt’s new constitution said the final draft would be finished on Wednesday, and three other members of the assembly told Reuters the document would be put to a vote on Thursday.


President stands by new powers, chief of staff says
President Mohamed Morsy will not retreat on the controversial constitutional declaration he issued Thursday, according to his chief of staff, Mohamed Refaa al-Tahtawi. In an interview with Al-Hayat 2 satellite channel late Tuesday, Tahtawi claimed that Morsy’s supporters outnumbered his opponents, the tens of thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square and around the country notwithstanding. “No going back. I do not want to speak menacingly, but we are prepared for any escalations,” said Tahtawi. [Egypt Independent, 11/28/2012]

Islamists launch initiatives to defend Morsy
Islamists launched initiatives Tuesday to defend President Mohamed Morsy, who faces mass demonstrations against the constitutional declaration he issued on 22 November. Political science professor and Morsy adviser Saif Abdel Fattah launched an initiative that includes issuing a new constitutional declaration comprising the first and third articles of the recent declaration. The initiative included a comprehensive ministerial reshuffle to exclude ministers who had links to the former regime or are suspected of corruption. The initiative suggested putting to referendum the return of the People’s Assembly and Shura Council and retaining the current Constituent Assembly.

National Council for Human Rights deputy head resigns
The deputy head of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), Abdel Ghaffar Shokr, formally resigned on Wednesday. Human rights lawyer and member of the NCHR Mohamed Zare’ also announced his intention to resign. The resignations follow an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the controversial constitutional declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsy last Thursday. The eight-hour-long meeting resulted in a statement described by Zare’ as a “disappointing compromise.” According to Zare’ the contradictory and politicised make up of the NCHR held the council back from issuing a more severe statement. [DNE, 11/28/2012]

Abul-Fotouh’s party to march against Morsi’s decree
The Strong Egypt Party has called for a march to the presidential palace in Heliopolis on Thursday, to voice disapproval of the controversial constitutional declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsi last week, and to press for the implementation of the party’s initiative to resolve the crisis caused by the decree. The centrist party, led by former presidential candidate and former leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, had earlier introduced its own proposal for a way out of the political crisis caused by the decree, which many political groups have opposed. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 11/27/2012]

Also of Interest:
ElBaradei under fire for Constituent Assembly comments | Egypt Independent


Egypt constitution draft to be finished Wednesday
The head of the assembly drafting Egypt’s new constitution said the final draft would be finished on Wednesday, and three other members of the assembly told Reuters the document would be put to a vote on Thursday."We will start now and finish today, God willing," Hossam el-Gheriyani, the assembly speaker, said at the start of a meeting of the constitutional assembly in Cairo. He said Thursday would be a "great day", without elaborating, and called on the members who had withdrawn from the body to return. [Reuters, 11/28/2012]

Constitutional Court blasts Morsy decree and accusations
The Supreme Constitutional Court has denied claims that it was planning to dismiss President Mohamed Morsy from office. Deputy court chairperson Maher Sami said in a Wednesday press conference that there has been a campaign against the Supreme Constitutional Court ever since it ruled to dissolve the People’s Assembly, parliament’s lower house. He added that he was saddened to see that Morsy himself has joined this campaign. [DNE, EGYNews (Arabic), 11/28/2012]

More judges join strike against Morsi declaration
The General Assembly of the Cairo Appeal Court has announced its members will go on strike from Wednesday until President Morsi rescinds his Constitutional Declaration. The appeal court judges are the latest to go out on strike to combat what they say is "a threat to judicial independence." On Tuesday, the Judges Club condemned the presidency’s recalcitrance and said it would escalate its strike to force Morsi to retract the declaration. The Judges Club also claimed that 99 percent of courts and prosecutions had suspended their work and joined a strike against the decree. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, NPR, Reuters, EGYNews (Arabic), 11/28/2012]

Diaspora Copts sentenced to death over anti-Islam movie
Cairo Criminal Court on Wednesday sentenced seven diaspora Coptic Egyptians to death in absentia over involvement in the production of an anti-Islam film made in the US. The text of the ruling has been forwarded to Egypt’s grand mufti for approval and has been asked to make a decision by 29 January. [AP, Egypt Independent, Ahram (Arabic), 11/28/2012]

Sentencing hearing for Alber Saber postponed to 12 December

The Marg Misdemeanor Court postponed Wednesday the sentencing session of blogger Alber Saber until 12 December, due to the court striking in protest of President Mohamed Morsy’s constitutional declaration. Saber, a 27-year-old computer programming student from Cairo, faces charges of defaming both Islam and Christianity. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 11/28/2012]


IMF: Egypt must keep steady course for loan review
The International Monetary Fund’s board will require there is no major change in economic outlook or policy when it considers approving a US$4.8 billion loan to Egypt, an IMF spokesperson said. The loan deal was agreed in principle this month with an IMF team in Cairo and the board is expected to meet to finalize the facility on 19 December. Egyptian officials have not indicated any shift in economic plans that include reining in the budget deficit from about 11 percent of gross domestic product in 2011/12 to 8.5 percent in the financial year that ends in June 2014. [Egypt Independent, 11/27/2012]

Firm conditions attached to Turkey’s loan to Egypt
Turkey’s loan to Egypt is contingent upon Egypt including Turkish companies in infrastructure projects and providing the Turkish government with expenditure reports, an anonymous source has revealed to Daily News Egypt. The terms and conditions attached to Turkey’s $1 billion loan to Egypt stipulate that the loan will be granted in two installments of $500 million each, the first having already been granted at the end of October, with the second be given on 30 January 2013. [DNE, 11/27/2012]

Anti-Morsi protests takes toll as Bourse tumbles 4.6 pct
Egyptian stocks tumbled on Wednesday as political uncertainty took its toll on investors, following massive anti-Morsi rallies on Tuesday. The main EGX30 index lost 4.6 percent EGX30 has decreased its gains since the beginning of 2012 to 33 per cent. "Today’s trading brought back memories of 26 January last year, the session that followed the first mass protests against then-president Mubarak on 25 January," commented Ashraf Abdel Aziz, head of institutions sales at Arabeya Online Securities. [Ahram Online, 11/28/2012]


Standoff continues between protesters, security near Tahrir
Security arrested 18 protesters during clashes in Simon Bolivar Square Wednesday near the US Embassy in Cairo, state-run news agency MENA reported. The day after tens of thousands filled the square in protest against the president’s constitutional declaration, protesters once again blocked off traffic in Tahrir Square after partially reopening it earlier in the day. Clashes nearby the square are still ongoing, with protesters pelting security forces with stones and security forces answering them with teargas canisters. [Egypt Independent, 11/28/2012]

Protesters storm Alexandria Brotherhood office, set Mansoura FJP office on fire
Protesters rejecting President Mohamed Morsy’s new constitutional declaration stormed the Muslim Brotherhood’s office in Alexandria on Tuesday night. Eyewitnesses said that the protesters threw furniture and equipment from the office in Smouha into the street, chanting, “Leave, leave” and, “The people want to topple the regime.” They added that there was no security presence in the area. “Central Security Forces officers refused to secure the office [of the group] and the Freedom and Justice Party to not get involved in the clashes,” a source within the Alexandria Security Directorate said. [Egypt Independent, DNE, 11/27/2012]

Anti-decree protests sweep governorates
Citizens in several governorates took to the streets Tuesday to protest Morsy’s declaration granting himself broad powers and immunizing the Constituent Assembly and Shura Council from being dissolved. The Muslim Brotherhood had called for simultaneous protests in Cairo and governorates to support Morsy, but postponed the Cairo protests while saying its members would protest in other parts of Egypt. [Egypt Independent, 11/27/2012]

Also of Interest:
Clashes in Egypt’s Mahalla subside, 129 injured: Security official | Ahram Online
Brotherhood leaders: Morsy’s declaration has popular support | Egypt Independent
Brotherhood to organise three Alexandria marches in support of Morsi | Ahram Online, Shorouk (Arabic)


Security forces assault photojournalist in clashes near Tahrir

Central Security Forces reportedly physically assaulted photojournalist Ahmed Gomaa of the privately-owned Al-Dostor newspaper on Tuesday while he was covering clashes between protesters and security forces in Simón Bolívar Square near the US Embassy in Cairo. Gomaa’s colleagues said that Journalists Syndicate has not contacted him, and they expect him to file a complaint against the Interior Ministry once he recovers. [Egypt Independent, 11/27/2012]

Brotherhood asked Armed Forces to protect headquarters

The Muslim Brotherhood called on the Armed Forces to secure its headquarters in Moqattam, and the Muslim Brotherhood formed committees along with Salafi youth to protect headquarters in governorates from attacks, a member said Tuesday. Brotherhood Shura Council member Sayed al-Nozaily said the Guidance Bureau told Brotherhood youth to secure the headquarters nationwide, and Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie asked that the Armed Forces protect the Moqattam headquarters from attacks. [Egypt Independent, 11/27/2012]


Egypt may face EU aid cut due to divisive Morsi decree: EU official
The European Union threatened to decrease aid to Egypt in case President Mohamed Morsi insisted on implementing his controversial constitutional decree, a senior member of the EU Parliament told German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau. "If Morsi chooses the road of dictatorship then the funds pumped into the Egyptian market will be less," Elmar Brok, head of the EU Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said. [Ahram Online, 11/27/2012]

US senator calls for halt to Egypt aid unless Morsi rescinds decree
The Obama administration should threaten to withhold financial aid from Egypt unless President Mohamed Morsi responds to opposition demands to rescind last week’s controversial decree, US Republican Senator John McCain told the Wall Street Journal on Monday. "This is not acceptable; this is not what US taxpayers expect from Egypt, and our dollars should be directly related to the progress of democracy, which President Morsi promised at the start of his term," McCain asserted. The US has leverage not only in providing aid but also in marshalling public opinion, and this is how it can pressure Morsi to withdraw his decree, said McCain. [Ahram Online, 11/28/2012]

Photo Credit: DNE

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