Top News: Egypt May See Presidential Vote First, President to Receive Draft Constitution

The fifty member Constituent Assembly tasked with amending the 2012 constitution finished its final vote on the constitution on Sunday evening, pending four contentious articles which did not pass. The committee is scheduled to hand the draft document to Interim President Adly Mansour on Tuesday. Egypt’s political transition was pitched into uncertainty on Sunday when a draft constitution was amended to allow a presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls, indicating a potential change in the army’s roadmap. 


Deputy Prime Minister and Nour Party criticize protest law
The newly passed and highly controversial Protest Law should have been issued by an elected legislative body, said Ziad Bahaa-Eldin, interim Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Cooperation. Bahaa-Eldin released a statement on the implementation of the Protest Law upon his return from Brussels. The minister explained in his statement that the trip kept him from commenting on the issuance of the law earlier. “I have refused this law and I still do,” he said. “Its articles restrict the freedom of peaceful protest.” The chairman of the Nour Party Younes Makhioun called for the withdrawal of the law on Wednesday in light of the forceful dispersal of the No Military Trials protest on Tuesday evening. He said the existing laws were sufficient enough to deter “the manifestation of violence in and out of the path of peaceful demonstrations.” The Revolutionary Front issued an official statement on Saturday giving the interim government a five day ultimatum to meet a list of four demands, including the cancellation of the controversial Protest Law. The ultimatum ends on Thursday morning, which marks the anniversary of the 2012 presidential palace clashes. The front threatened to rally for peaceful protests should the government fail to meet its four demands before the deadline. The demands include the abolishment of the Protest Law, the resignation of Mohamed Ibrahim as Minister of Interior, a clear statement in the constitution banning military trials for civilians, the release of all the detained protesters, and for security forces to allow for peaceful protests to be carried out without harassment or interference. Meanwhile, Ali Abdel Rahman, governor of Giza, announced the governorate has allocated a 3.5-acre piece of land to hold peaceful demonstrations as stipulated in the recently-issued law regulating protests. The “free protest zone” will be located alongside al-Mansuriya road close to the Giza Pyramids, he said. It will be allocated for public meetings, processions, or peaceful demonstrations that could be staged without notifying the authorities as stipulated in the law, Abdel Rahman added. Abdel Rahman said the area would be enough for 10,000 demonstrators to gather. The area specified is easily accessible from different places including Mansuriya road, Haram Road and the ring road, he said. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 12/1/2013]

Egypt tweaks roadmap, may see presidential vote held first
Egypt’s political transition was pitched into uncertainty on Sunday when a draft constitution was amended to allow a presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls, indicating a potential change in the army’s roadmap. The roadmap unveiled when the military ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July said a parliamentary election should take place before the presidential one. But the draft finalized on Sunday by the fifty-member constituent assembly avoids saying which vote should happen first, leaving the decision up to President Adly Mansour, seen as a front for army rule since he was installed to head the interim administration. The draft also says the “election procedures” must start within six months of the constitution’s ratification, meaning Egypt may not have an elected president and parliament until the second half of next year. [Reuters, 12/1/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian Islamist leader issues warning from exile | Reuters


Constituent assembly finishes vote on constitution; President to receive draft Tuesday
The fifty member Constituent Assembly tasked with amending the 2012 constitution finished its final vote on the constitution on Sunday evening, pending four contentious articles which did not pass. The committee is scheduled to hand the draft document to Interim President Adly Mansour on Tuesday, who will set a date for a referendum on the charter. The assembly started its final vote on the constitution on Saturday, passing 138 articles out of a total of 247. Article 230, which puts forward an electoral timeline, was amended and then passed. The article states that regardless of which elections are held first – presidential or parliamentary – the other elections should be held within six months after the constitution passes. Article 229 was among those amended; the original text stated that two-thirds of members of parliament were to be independent, with the remaining third drawn from party lists. The amended text, which was passed, left the matter to be decided by the interim president. In the earlier voting session, the  assembly voted unanimously for an article in the draft constitution eliminating the parliament Upper House (Shura Council), approved conditional military trials for civilians, and approved transitional articles that will oblige parliament to regulate church construction. They also approved articles banning torture, guaranteeing freedom of belief, and allowing for censorship of the media at times of war and public mobilization. Before voting began, the Cairo University Student Union (CUSU) issued a statement on Saturday announcing the withdrawal of their president, Hisham Ashraf, from the fifty member Constituent Assembly, for which he was a back-up member, and demanding the removal of the Minister of Higher Education.  The head of the ultraconservative Nour Party, Younes Makhioun, said on Sunday that the amended constitution is generally satisfying. The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy that supports ousted President Mohamed Morsi, however, says that the new draft constitution protects the army’s interests and serving anti-revolution forces. [DNE, Mada Masr, SIS, AP, Ahram Online, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 12/2/2013]

Egypt prosecutor extends detention of Alaa Abdel Fattah, releases Ahmed Maher
April 6 movement founder Ahmed Maher was ordered to be released from police custody on Sunday afternoon, while prominent activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah’s detention was renewed for an additional fifteen days. Maher, Abdel Fattah and twenty-four other activists—who remain in custody—were arrested on charges stemming from a November 26 protest outside the Shura Council.  Charges against Abdel Fattah include rallying, “thuggery,” inciting violence, resisting authorities and violating the controversial new Protest Law. Abdel Fattah was arrested on Thursday when security forces raided his house, taking him into custody, while Ahmed Maher turned himself in to the authorities on Saturday. “Maher denied accusations that he had called for last Tuesday’s protest on social media websites, also denying his presence during the protest [as he said he was at his house] and any relation with Abdel Fattah other than knowing him from social media websites and human rights conferences,” said Ali Atia, lawyer at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Rights groups have called for the immediate and unconditional release of Alaa Abdel Fattah, with international human rights watchdog Amnesty International issuing an “urgent” press brief late on Friday night, calling on Egyptian authorities to release Revolutionary Front founding member Abdel Fattah and the twenty-four other activists being held in detention. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 12/1/2013]

Also of Interest:
Appeal date set for twenty-one pro-Morsi female protesters case | Ahram Online, DNE
Police clash with activists during Khaled Said case retrial | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr  
Egypt’s prosecution calls on Interpol to arrest Islamist leader in Qatar | Ahram Online
Courts fines Ahmed Douma for insults against Morsi | DNE
Court reinstates senior security official acquitted of protester’s murder | Egypt Independent  
Egypt policemen acquitted on torture charges | DNE
The ‘eye sniper’ and the girl protesters: Egypt’s tale of two trials | Reuters
Egypt bans Morsi lawyer and ex-MP from travel | Aswat Masriya
Police officers imprisoned for assaulting a prosecutor | Egypt Independent
Arrests for violations of protest law continue | DNE


Saudi Arabia will provide Egypt with US$5 billion package; Kuwait Fund discusses new aid package
A senior official at the Ministry of Finance said Saudi Arabia would offer a new aid package to Egypt worth $5 billion. “Negotiations over this package have lasted for nearly one month. It includes grants, a deposit in the Central Bank of Egypt and oil products,” the Anadolu news agency quoted the official. The official reportedly told the Anadolu news agency that the package also includes a non-refundable grant of $1 billion, adding that additional details will be announced soon. Meanwhile, a delegation from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development arrived in Cairo on Saturday evening to discuss a new Kuwaiti aid package to Egypt during the upcoming period.  According to Egyptian sources, the delegation, headed by Mohamed Yassin Abdel-Aal, the legal adviser to the Kuwait Fund, will meet many Egyptian officials during their visit to Egypt that will take place over several days. The delegation will also follow up on the implementation of some projects of cooperation between Egypt and the Kuwait Fund. [Egypt Independent, 12/1/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s new constitution will stipulate progressive taxation | Ahram Online
Petroleum ministry kicks off experimental stage of smartcard programme | DNE
Egyptian pound up at dollar sale, black market rates lower | DNE
Egypt’s banknote issuance rose EGP 10 billion June-August 2013: CBE | Ahram Online


Student killed at Cairo University protest; Four protesters detained, charged with manslaughter
Several thousand engineering students gathered at Cairo University on Sunday morning to protest the killing of a fellow student Mohamed Reda by security forces. The protests started at the university’s Faculty of Engineering, where hundreds of angry students chanted against the Ministry of Interior and ‘military rule’ while carrying photos of their colleagues slain over the past month in clashes with security forces. The faculty’s main building, upon which students had hung a banner that read “Closed by order of the students” had been closed since early morning. A number of students torched a police vehicle near Egypt’s Cairo University on Sunday during a protest against the killing of one of their colleagues. “Some students attacked a police vehicle that was parked near the university and set it to fire,” the security sources said. Police fired teargas at around one thousand pro-Morsi students protesting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday afternoon. Army tanks and police vehicles sealed off the square from all directions. Meanwhile, Cairo University has accused security forces of firing tear gas and birdshot on campus during clashes Thursday, which led to the death of a student and the injury of several others, according to a statement released by the university on Saturday. According to Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website, university administration is conducting an immediate investigation into the incident. However, the general prosecutor’s office said on Monday that the university student killed last week during clashes with security forces was shot dead by protesting fellow students. A report by medical examiners also has blamed protesting students, rather than security forces, for the shooting of Mohamed Reda. The South Giza prosecution ordered the detention pending investigation of four students on Friday on charges of leading protests at Cairo University without obtaining authorization from the Ministry of Interior, as is required by the newly enacted protest law. The detained students have been charged with manslaughter and instigating an unauthorized protest. Student unions organised protests and rallies at different universities across the country on Sunday, an effort that was in spirit with those at Cairo University. Protests and rallies continued at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, which has been rocked by student unrest since the beginning of the academic year. The protesters made demands regarding the recent expulsion and arrest of students and colleagues in recent weeks. However, the focus of the Al-Azhar students’ rage was a recent court ruling against fourteen pro-Morsi female protesters in Alexandria, who were given up to eleven years in jail. Representatives of six university Student Unions, as well as the student representatives of eight political parties and movements, demanded Saturday the dismissal of the Minister of Higher Education Hossam Eissa and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim. The students declared during a press conference at the Egyptian Popular Current office in Cairo the Minister of Higher Education politically responsible for violations that have taken place within universities, and the Interior Minister responsible for the recent killing of students, demanding they be held accountable for their decisions. [Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online

Twenty arrested after Minya sectarian violence leaves five dead
Two separate incidents of sectarian violence in villages in the governorate of Minya on Thursday claimed several lives. One of the incidents took place in the village of Badraman where reports surfaced of a relationship between a Muslim girl and a Coptic boy. Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said tensions escalated when the homes of Christians were burned down by Muslims and one Muslim died under unknown circumstances. Nine people were arrested. The other incident broke out between residents of the predominantly Coptic village of Nazlet Ebeid and the predominantly Muslim village of al-Hawarta. A statement by the Diocese of Minya and Abu Qurqas said a Coptic landowner whose land is close to al-Hawarta village was being prevented from building a house on his land. Clashes left four people dead, while security forces have arrested twenty people.The Security Directorate of Minya announced that eleven people were arrested from the two villages. Sami Metwaly, security director for the governorate of Minya, says the deadly violence that erupted in the area on Thursday and Friday was not originally sectarian, though some incitements made it appear to be. Metwaly’s statement directly contradicts the narrative offered by the Coptic Orthodox Archbishopric of Minya. A statement released by the Archbishopric earlier states that the events began with a dispute between a Muslim and a Christian over the construction of a wall in the Nazlet Abeed village, located around six kilometres from the city of Minya. According to the statement, the dispute then escalated into sectarian clashes. [Ahram Online, DNE, 12/1/2013]

Also of Interest:
Tahrir Square reopens to traffic | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent  
April 6 movement denounces continued detention of Egyptian activists | Ahram Online
Police disperse Saturday anti-protest law demo with tear gas | Ahram Online
Pro-Morsi protests spark violent clashes | DNE
Twenty-one Alexandrian girls “prisoners of conscience”: Amnesty | DNE, Aswat Masriya
Shura Council detainees go on hunger strike amid claims of ‘torture’ | DNE
Authorities disperse ‘7 a.m.’ protest with water cannons | Aswat Masriya
‘7 a.m.’ movement says its lawyer has been arrested | Mada Masr, Ahram Online
Pro-Morsi alliance calls for million-man demos in solidarity with imprisoned Brotherhood girls | Egypt Independent
Clashes as Egypt police disperse Islamist demos | DNE
Egypt police fire teargas to scatter Tahrir Square protesters | Reuters


Army continues Sinai operations, terrorist group admits losses
The Egyptian Armed Forces continued its operations in the restive Sinai Peninsula against extremist groups suspected for orchestrating a series of bloody attacks on security forces since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in July. Security sources said the army waged an attack on Monday at Central Sinai, managing to demolish a terrorist haven suspected as a launching pad for attacks against the forces. Al-Masry Al-Youm detected unprecedented activity by police forces in Arish, North Sinai. Patrols moved across the city and fired intermittent warning shots. The sources added that checkpoints had been erected at several areas of the city, and that a number of homes were raided in search for suspects. Military spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Ali said that three Islamist terrorists were killed in North Sinai in clashes with army troops. Ali also said the army seized large quantities of arms and ammunition in a raid on terrorist hideouts on Saturday morning in the North Sinai cities of al-Nusraniya, al-Bawati, al-Arish, al-Wefaq, Sheikh Zuweid and Bir al-Abd. The army also seized the truck the terrorists were driving and discovered the following weapons in the truck: a machine gun, two automatic rifles, a rocket propelled grenade launcher (RPG-7) and a 9mm pistol. [Egypt Independent, SIS, 2/12/2013]

Also of Interest:
New footage released of deadly Sinai bus explosion | DNE
National Defense Council addresses domestic security | DNE
Residents attack police station after shooting death | Mada Masr
Police forces arrest alleged ‘terrorist’ for involvement in Mabrouk assassination | DNE


Hagel and Ashton voice concern over arrest, government restrictions
US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel voiced his government’s concern over the Egyptian government’s restriction of demonstrations and protests on Saturday. During a phone call with his Egyptian counterpart, Minister of Defence and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Hagel also raised the issue of the continued arrest of Egyptian activists and the arrest of a group of girls, who were sentenced last week in Alexandria. On Saturday, the US State Department reiterated its concern after the recent demonstrations in Egypt in which 200 people were arrested, arguing that the new protest law is not consistent with international standards. On Sunday Spokesperson of European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton also voiced some concerns over recent developments in Egypt. “The reported use of force, arrests, and disproportionate sentences can only impede the country’s transition to democracy,” said a statement issued from Ashton’s office. [DNE, Reuters, Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 12/1/2013]

UK endorses Egyptian interim government ‘future map’ for first time
A UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson told Ahram Online Saturday that his government is “working with the [Egyptian] interim government to encourage an inclusive democratic transition.” Asked about his government’s view of the roadmap adopted nearly five months ago following Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, the FCO spokesperson said: “We support the process which is currently taking place.” He added that his government had noted the concerns of the UN and civil society organizations regarding the new protest law. “We encourage the Egyptian authorities to address these concerns,” the spokesman said. The UK, however, is adopting a different position on the law than the UN and the US officials who strongly criticized it as a violation of human rights unaligned with international standards. The UK believes it is important that the implementation of the law allows for freedom of expression to be exercised. Confirming his country’s engagement with the Egyptian interim government, the spokesman said the UK “trusts the law will allow for this necessary freedom.” [Ahram Online, SIS, 12/1/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt, Saudi Arabia stress importance of coordination | DNE
Poland eases travel warnings on Egypt | Ahram Online
Egypt to “diversify” foreign relations: Fahmy | DNE
Egyptian ambassador to Turkey returns to Cairo | Aswat Masriya