Top News: Egypt Names UK-based Control Risks Group to Review Airport Security

Egypt has hired British consultancy Control Risks to help boost airport security, almost two months after a Russian airliner crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 224 people. CEO Andreas Carleton-Smith says Tuesday that the company’s objective is to make sure Egyptian airports comply with international aviation standards. “Our role will be to review all existing security processes and procedures against international best practice,” he said at a joint press conference with Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal and Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou. “Ensuring safe and secure flights for everyone travelling to Egypt whether for business or pleasure, is a top priority of the Egyptian government. This is why we have taken immediate actions to ensure we possess a world-class, gold standard security,” Zaazou said. [Ahram Online, Reuters, AP, Aswat Masriya, 12/22/2015]


Egypt’s president says he would not stay in office against the will of Egyptians
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi says he would not stay in office against the will of Egyptians during a speech at a Tuesday event organized by Egypt’s endowments ministry celebrating the birth of the Prophet Mohamed. “I came to office by your choice and not against your will,” Sisi said, addressing the people of Egypt.  Addressing the “group calling for a new revolution” on the anniversary of the January 25 uprising, Egypt’s president asked if they want to “ruin this country and destroy the people.” The Egyptian president said he fears nothing and that he will not accept the destruction of Egypt. One call to protest on that date, has picked up momentum on social media. More than 45,000 people said they are joining the call on a Facebook event. Addressing the newly elected members of parliament, Sisi asked them to put aside any kind of conflict and to concentrate on the challenges currently facing the country. He also stressed that the upcoming parliament will play a crucial role in Egyptian society, more so than other parliaments. Meanwhile, during a meeting Monday with the head of Egypt’s semi-governmental National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Mohamed Fayek, Sisi stressed that no one is above accountability when it comes to human rights violations. Sisi also pledged to support NCHR activities through field visits to Egypt’s prisons and to address any violations of human rights, Presidential Spokesperson Alaa Youssef said in a statement. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 12/22/2015]

Rifts within FEP continue as member resigns on television broadcast
Senior member of the Free Egyptians Party (FEP) Emad Gad resigned from the party, in a sudden announcement on a live television broadcast Monday evening. The announcement came on TV presenter Lamees El-Hadidy’s show on the CBC network, where Gad cited personal disputes with the head of the party’s parliamentary bloc Alaa Abed. Gad’s move, however, puts his himself in himself in jeopardy of expulsion from the parliament, which is yet to hold its first session. According to Article 6 of the law regulating the house of the representatives–for the parliamentary membership of any member to continue, they have to remain in the capacity for which they were elected. The article further explains that if a member changes his party affiliation or becomes independent of his party, he loses his parliamentary membership with a vote of two-thirds of the House of Representatives. The means that a vote would have to take place during the parliament’s first session. [DNE, 12/22/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Top Brotherhood figures struggle to mend internal rift | AMAY
  • Complexities surround the upcoming speaker of Egypt’s new parliament | Aswat Masriya


Former ministers of manpower accused of embezzling EGP40 million
Former ministers of manpower, Nahed al-Ashry and Kamal Abu Eita, have been accused of involvement in the embezzlement and misappropriation of millions of pounds from the ministry’s emergency labor funds during their terms in office. Along with 20 other ministerial officials, they stand accused of misallocating nearly LE40 million (over $US 5. million) from emergency funds between 2007 and 2014. These ministerial emergency funds are intended to assist assisting workers whose companies have stalled, who have been punitively sacked, or who have been denied their wages. The Public Funds Investigations Department (a financial crimes unit affiliated to the Ministry of Interior) has filed documented claims against a host of officials from the Ministry of Manpower indicating that money from the emergency labor funds was wrongfully used to pay for public servants’ promotions and bonuses. [Mada Masr, 12/21/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Zamalek president to sue referee committee head for alleged corruption | Ahram Online


Egypt’s Central Bank tightens import controls to boost local production
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) will tighten import regulations starting in January in a bid to support local manufacturing and better preserve dwindling foreign currency reserves. The decision excludes imports of medicine, foods, and other essential goods like wheat. In a statement on Tuesday, the CBE said it aimed to “strengthen the national economy and promote local products, enhancing their competitiveness against foreign products.” Egyptian manufacturers have been pushing for stricter regulations to prevent importers from putting artificially low values on customs bills to avoid duties. The statement said that banks should obtain documents for imports directly from foreign banks instead of clients in order to stop any manipulation of receipts by importers. Importers will also have to provide 100 percent of the cash deposit on letters of credit for imports instead of the current 50 percent. Meanwhile on Tuesday, an unnamed official said the CBE has sold $7.6 billion in recent weeks to make it easier for importers pay for goods. [Reuters, 12/22/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt to receive $1.5 billion from Arab funds for Sinai development | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s Beltone Capital targets share sale in 2016 | Reuters
  • Telecom Egypt projects 2016 revenue growth of 7 to 9 percent | Reuters
  • Egypt’s central bank dollar sales total $7.6 billion in recent weeks, official says | Reuters
  • Subsidiary of Mubarak-era tycoon’s steel company suffers significant increase in net losses | Aswat Masriya


Media gag order imposed on Egyptian Dabaa nuclear project
A media gag order was imposed Monday on reports involving the Dabaa nuclear project in Egypt, state-owned MENA news agency reported. According to the order, nothing may be published about the Dabaa nuclear project in Egyptian media without gaining permission from security authorities or the office of the minister of electricity. No clear details have been revealed about the media gag, including the reason behind it or from where the order was issued. The gag order was issued shortly after a meeting between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker where they discussed the latest developments regarding the Dabaa nuclear project. Critics have questioned the country’s capacity to operate the plant safely, and raised concerns about the site’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 12/21/2015]

Women-only buses introduced in Egypt for first time
Egypt has for the first time introduced women-only buses in the Nile Delta city of Damanhour, with officials saying the move is not to combat sexual harassment as assumed by many. “Of course we want to decrease any kind of violence against women, yet it is not the main reason for introducing the buses,” spokesperson for Beheira governorate Wahdan al-Sayed said. She explained that women were often physically unable to reach the bus doors due to men pushing their way onto the buses, especially during rush hour. Six out of 66 government-owned buses have been allocated for women only; five of the buses are for all women, while one is designated for women with disabilities. The official said the new buses have been in operation for the past four days and that citizens in the city have been overjoyed. The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) highlighted in its latest annual report that passengers in all Egyptian governorates, with the exception of Cairo and Alexandria, increased from 86.1 thousand to 99.8 thousand between the years 2012 and 2014. [Ahram Online, 12/21/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Qalyubiya building collapses leaving four dead, four injured | Ahram Online
  • Strike at Petrotrade Company continues into second week | DNE
  • NGO slams removal of school official who hosted poet with critical work | Egypt Independent
  • Poor provinces need development to limit illegal migration of minors says minister | AMAY
  • Over 2,800 Egyptians die in car accidents in first half of 2015 | Aswat Masriya


Nine injured in two separate explosions in Sinai
A roadside bomb went off on Tuesday on a main road in North Sinai, injuring two, state news agency MENA reported. Unknown assailants remotely detonated a bomb they planted near a major road in the provincial capital of al-Arish when an armored vehicle passed by. A policeman and a civilian were injured in the attack and transferred to a nearby hospital. A second bomb exploded in Sheikh Zuweid, also near a military vehicle, injuring seven conscripts. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. On Monday, meanwhile, state media, citing an anonymous military source, reported that ten alleged members of the militant group Sinai State had been killed when Egyptian armed forces raided a hut in North Sinai. [Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY, 12/22/2015]

Interior Ministry organizes human rights competition
The Interior Ministry challenged police officers to find a balance between maintaining security and respecting human rights in a competition it organized, a statement on its Facebook page said Tuesday. Police officers in the different ministry sectors and different ranks were required to submit research papers on how to achieve this balance, the statement said. “This comes as part of the Interior Ministry’s effort to spread and support the principles and values of human rights in the different sectors,” the ministry said, “and guaranteeing citizens’ rights and freedoms.” The ministry has especially come under fire lately for the growing number of forced disappearances cases and arbitrary detentions, torture at police stations and poor conditions in places of detention. [Mada Masr, 12/22/2015]


European Parliament to make frequent visits to Egypt says EU Ambassador to Egypt
The EU ambassador to Egypt James Moran said numerous European Parliament missions will visit Egypt more often in the upcoming period once the new parliament there officially takes office. “We must first understand the form of the new parliament, which is now going through the drafting process, and the work of its committees that are expected to have an important role,” Moran said during a press conference Sunday. “As for the European Parliament, many European parliamentarians want to understand what happened in Egypt during the past years, which they could not have done in the absence of a parliament over the last period. Here we will find many parliamentary missions that will visit Egypt and further strengthen relations between both sides,” Moran said. He hopes that in the upcoming period, plans will be clearer so that EU donors can support Egypt in the upcoming period. [DNE, 12/21/2015]