Top News: Egypt Court Withdraws Raba’a Operations Room Sentences, Orders Retrial

Egypt’s Court of Cassation revoked on Thursday death sentences issued to Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and 11 other leading members of the group, in the case known publicly as the Raba’a Control Room Trial. The court also revoked the life sentences for 25 others in the same case, and ordered a retrial for all defendants. The case included 14 journalists and media workers–13 of whom received life sentences, while one received the death penalty. The defendants face charges of directing the movement of Brotherhood supporters across the country as part of a plan to “defy the state and spread chaos” after the violent dispersal of the Raba’a al-Adaweya protest camp in mid-August 2013. The same court upheld on Tuesday a 15-year prison sentence against Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) leader Mohamed al-Beltagy and Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazy in a torture case. The pair were found guilty of holding a lawyer captive and torturing him during the January 25 Revolution in 2011. [Ahram Online, 12/3/2015]


Final elections results expected Friday; Parties announce preliminary results
The final results of the second stage of parliamentary elections will be announced Friday, Spokesperson for the High Elections Committee (HEC) Omar Marwan said Wednesday. According to Marwan, a total of 17,500 Egyptian expatriates voted in the second stage run-offs, while the turnout in Egypt reportedly remained low. Some parties began to announce unofficial preliminary results Thursday, with the Free Egyptians Party saying it secured 65 seats in total. Mostaqbal Watan (The Future of the Nation) party said they won 50 seats, the Wafd Party said it won 45, and the Salafi Nour Party said it secured 12. Independent figures who say they secured seats include Mortada Mansour and Tawfiq Okasha. Okasha says he secured an estimated 90,000 votes and has expressed interest in the role of the speaker of the parliament. Meanwhile, four constituencies will recast their vote December 5-7 due to violations such as ballots featuring names of excluded and dead candidates. In an outline of the Arab League’s final report on the elections, Haifaa Abu Ghazala, the head of the observation mission, praised judicial supervision and security measures ensuring transparency and smooth operation of the elections, but also noted delays in opening polling stations, violations by candidates related to campaigning during electoral silence, and the prevention of some observers from entering polling stations. She said, “We do not believe the final results will be affected by those violations.” Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights also documented bribes taking place on the final day of voting. The HEC said it received 56 complaints of attempted bribery inside polling stations, with Marwan urging people to submit video clips documenting the incidents in order for them to be considered among other violations, adding that posting evident videos on social media is not enough. [Cairo Post, Mada Masr, Ahram Online, 12/3/2015]

Official expects governors reshuffle in eleven governorates
A high-level government official says 11 governors are expected to be replaced in an impending reshuffle. The official added, upon condition of anonymity, that Prime Minister Sherif Ismail conducted a survey over the past two months to assess the current governors’ performance and achievements. The reshuffle will include the governors of Beheira, Giza, Menoufiya, Kafr al-Sheikh, Gharbiya, Daqahlia, Port Said, Assiut, Sohag, and New Valley, in addition to appointing a governor for Alexandria, according to the official. Current governors may be transferred to other governorates as part of the reshuffle, he added. [AMAY, 12/3/2015]

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Egypt’s Central Bank to inject dollar liquidity over next month
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) plans to inject dollar liquidity into the market this month and is planning an exceptional foreign exchange auction. A statement issued following a meeting between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and CBE Governor Tarek Amer said that Egypt’s foreign reserves are stable and will improve in the coming period. The statement did not say where Egypt would source the dollars for the planned foreign exchange injections or how it expects to rebuild its foreign currency reserves. Meanwhile, the CBE said its new mechanism for dollar auctions will allocate dollars based on banks’ effectiveness in providing foreign currency to the local market, stressing the priority on covering basic goods. The new mechanism will assess banks based on their ability to extend credit facilities in foreign currency to cover their clients’ needs. [Reuters, DNE, 12/2/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s treasury bill yields almost unchanged at Thursday’s auction | Reuters
  • Oil’s tumble may dampen Gulf; Egypt may test resistance | Reuters
  • Egypt negotiates for EU loan says minister | Cairo Post
  • German developing projects in Egypt hit 3.1 billion euros says Ambassador | Cairo Post


Sisi says individual police violations should not take toll on relationship with public
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday pledged to punish police officers who make mistakes amid mounting criticism of the force following the deaths of three people while in custody last month. Speaking at the police academy in Cairo, Sisi said “isolated incidents” do not reflect on the conduct of the whole police force, which is keeping the country safe. “When someone makes a mistake, we will punish him,” Sisi said, but added that “an individual’s mistake should not lead us to accuse an (entire) institution.” In his speech, Sisi also saluted police victims, and highlighted the role played by the police in maintaining security, as well as its performance during the parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, according to a new report from the El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, last month alone witnessed the death of 13 citizens in detention centers, while another 42 cases of prison torture were reported, as well as the forced disappearance of 40 persons. The relocation of one of the policemen implicated in the death of a detainee in Luxor has been criticized by the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, as well as by activists. Ibrahim Omara was relocated to Ismailia, where another incident of a detainee’s death in custody has been reported, amid accusations of torture. The Administrative Court is also due to issue a verdict on December 14 in response to a lawsuit filed by a Beheira resident in which he is demanding compensation for physical damages he sustained at the hands of a policeman who allegedly tortured him. [Ahram Online, AP, DNE, 12/3/2015]

Facebook administrators detained 15 days pending investigation
The administrator of the Facebook page, Revolution of the Poor, has reportedly been detained 15 days pending investigation on charges of inciting violence. Yehia Salah, together with Mostafa Ahmed, were arrested earlier this week. Security forces monitored Ahmed’s private conversations, saying he allegedly agreed to commit terrorist attacks in al-Warraq, Sayeda Zeinab Metro Station, and in Tahrir Square. His plans also allegedly included the targeting of police officers by publishing their phone numbers and addresses. They confiscated Salah’s laptop and purportedly found documents of plans to free prisoners, according to the statement. The statement added that Ahmed confessed to running anti-government pages on Facebook to spread Muslim Brotherhood’s ideologies. Defense lawyer and member of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), Malek Adly, told Daily News Egypt: “We are not opposed to punishing those who incite violence, but there is no evidence against the two defendants. We cannot trust the Ministry of Interior’s claims since it is completely against the freedom of expression.” [DNE, Shourouk (Arabic), 12/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Solidarity, condemnations follow researcher’s arrest | DNE, Egypt Independent
  • Minister opens Cairo Airport museum Monday | AMAY, AP
  • Journalists Syndicate denounces attacks on Egyptian media personnel in Paris | Mada Masr


Egypt’s Interior Ministry aware of terrorist plots, vows to thwart them
Egypt’s Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar said on Monday that the country’s security apparatus has gathered intelligence about several terrorist plots in the country. Abdel-Ghaffar asserted that the police is in full readiness to thwart any such plots and arrest those involved, state news agency MENA reported. Abdel-Ghaffar said the security forces have been successful in the past at directing “harsh blows to terrorist elements,” adding that they have also been able to arrest and refer terror suspects to the relevant investigative authorities on a daily basis. He also insists that the change in tactics by Islamist militants, such as a move towards suicide attacks, is proof that the security apparatus is successfully combating the activity of such groups. [Ahram Online 11/30/2015]


Russia ready for discussions over lifting flight ban to Egypt
Russia is set to begin discussions with Egyptian authorities before the end of the year concerning the possibility of restoring flights between the two countries, according to Russia’s Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov. Moscow halted all direct flights by Egyptair from Egypt to Russia in the wake of the crashed Russian A321 aircraft in Sinai. “We can start talking about the [resumption of air traffic with Egypt] now, before the New Year, we will start a joint action plan, but this won’t be easy and will require a very big responsibility,” Sokolov told Russia 24 TV channel. The Russian statement comes two days after Egyptian Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou agreed with British ambassador in Egypt John Casson on a joint action plan by the end of November for the return of flights between the UK and Sharm al-Sheikh as soon as possible. [DNE, 12/2/2015]

Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to hold six-party meeting on Renaissance Dam next week
Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia will a hold a six-party meeting in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Sunday and Monday for talks on Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, according to Egyptian Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazi. The meeting will be attended by the foreign minister as well as the water and irrigation minister from each attending country. The meeting aims to revive technical talks on the dam, and to discuss Egyptian concerns. Moghazi also said that the ministers will discuss means to implement the declaration of principles signed by the three countries in March 2015. Moghazi explained that this meeting constitutes a new level of negotiations and is a significant step towards addressing the concerns of the involved parties. A tenth round of talks is scheduled to take place in Khartoum following the six-party meeting. Meanwhile, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir described the Egyptian media as “poor” and “fuelling conflict” between Sudan and Egypt, citing the circulation of news about holding Egyptian elections in the disputed territories of Halayib and Shalateen. [Ahram Online, MENA, AMAY, 12/2/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Rafah border crossing opened for two days | DNE, AP, Aswat Masriya
  • New projects discussed on sidelines of Egyptian-Saudi coordination council’s meeting | SIS
  • Egyptian-Saudi coordination council urges furthering ties | SIS
  • Foreign Ministry spokesman says Egypt, Saudi Foreign Ministers confer on bilateral relations | SIS
  • Germany works with Egypt to ensure tourism security | DNE
  • Killers of Egyptian doorman arrested in Jordan | MENA
  • Egypt, UK discuss cooperation in education | SIS
  • Chief of Staff meets Japanese counterpart in Cairo | Cairo Post
  • Presidential team in Athens to prepare for Sisi’s visit | Cairo Post