Top News: Egypt Parliament Ruled Illegal, But to Stay On

Protesters at Shura Council.jpg

The Shura Council and the Constituent Assembly were formed unconstitutionally according to a ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) on Sunday. According to the ruling, the Shura Council will be dissolved after a new House of Representatives is formed. The constitution will also remain in effect. 


Morsi meets opposition to discuss Ethiopia dam, while some boycott
Egyptian political figures and parties were divided over whether to take part in a presidential meeting on Monday which will look into the impact of a new Nile dam being built by Ethiopia. President Morsi called for the meeting to look into the findings of a report drawn up by a panel of experts on the impact of the Renaissance Dam on water supplies in Sudan and Egypt. Amr Hamzawy, leader of the liberal Egypt Freedom Party, as well as members of al-Wafd, the Popular Socialist Alliance were among those participating. The Strong Egypt Party announced on Monday it would not attend because party head Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh is out of country, and only party heads were invited to attend. Mohamed ElBaradei’s Dostour Party, the Free Egyptians Party, Hamdeen Sabbahy’s Popular Current, Mohamed Abul-Ghar’s Egyptian Social Democratic Party and Amr Moussa’s Conference Party chose not participate. Both Abul-Ghar and Moussa said they would instead send a memo on the issue to the president.
[Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 6/3/2013]

Political figures react to SCC ruling
A number of prominent leaders reacted to the Supreme Constitutional Court’s (SCC) ruling that the formation of the Constituent Assembly and Shura Council is unconstitutional, and the court’s decision to uphold the council’s legitimacy until the next parliamentary elections. The presidency released a statement stressing that the constitution passed by referendum is the reference upon which everyone acts, adding that people and state institutions should respect and defend the constitution. Former MP Amr Hamzawy stated that he appreciated the reasons behind postponing the dissolution of the Shura Council. “However, the Shura Council should limit legislation to election laws for the House of Representatives,” he said. Mourad Ali, media adviser of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), countered that the verdict does not change anything. “Some groups are trying to involve the judiciary in political conflicts.” Shehab Wagih, spokesperson for the Free Egyptians Party, said: “The verdict came too late, we knew from day one the Shura Council was unconstitutional.” Al-Dostour Party and National Salvation Front leader Mohamed ElBaradei had previously stated that the first step towards reform was a consensual Constituent Assembly to amend the constitution. Sources report an FJP push to reshape the SCC in answer to its ruling. [DNE, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Shorouk (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 6/3/2013]

Al-Sharqawi, Foreign Ministry defend draft NGO law
Critics of the presidency’s draft NGO law are exaggerating the bill’s flaws according to the assistant to the president for political affairs. Pakinam al-Sharqawi provided 11 points in a statement issued on Saturday responding to claims that the NGO bill was hostile and oppressive towards Egyptian civil society. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson also asserted on Sunday that the new NGOs draft law is an internal affair. The remark came in response to a recent US State Department statement on Egypt’s new NGOs proposed law. The spokesperson said that a national dialogue will be held to discuss the bill. [DNE, SIS, 6/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Political parties form parallel governments | DNE
Al-Nour Party Chairman speaks against Muslim Brotherhood | DNE
Al-Dostour Party elections in Cairo | DNE
Construction & Development Party conducts internal elections Monday | EGYNews (Arabic)
FJP proposes army voting ban for next 5 years | Egypt Independent
Shura Council seeks advice from previous ministers to address budget deficit | DNE


Egypt parliament ruled illegal, but to stay on
The Shura Council and the Constituent Assembly were formed unconstitutionally according to a ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) on Sunday. According to the ruling, the Shura Council will be dissolved after a new House of Representatives is formed. The constitution will also remain in effect. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) stated Sunday that the court ruling on the Shura Council, albeit legitimate, has ‘no practical effect’ since the Shura Council cannot be dissolved. They also questioned the difference between the SCC verdicts dissolving the Shura Council verdict and the People’s Assembly last year. FJP Shura Council members added that the council would continue its legislative work, including discussing the Judicial Authority Law. The Judges Club however issued a statement saying that the Shura Council’s legislative powers are restricted to the Elections Law. The judiciary is once again divided over the issue, with State Council judge saying the Shura Council reserves the right to issue legislation until the election of a new House of Representatives. Mohamed Mahsoub, deputy head of the Islamist Wasat party, denounced Sunday’s court ruling, while founder of the Constitution Party Mohamed ElBaradei called for a new constituent assembly and a new election law – both to be ratified by the people in a popular referendum. April 6 Youth Movement founder Ahmed Maher said Sunday’s ruling was correct but comes eight months too late. Meanwhile, the office of the president said on Sunday that the Shura Council will continue to "carry out its full legislative role" until legislative powers are handed over to an elected House of Representatives. [Reuters, Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Egypt Independent, 6/3/2013]

SCC: President’s ordering of arbitrary arrests as part of emergency law unconstitutional
The president cannot legally order arbitrary arrests as part of the emergency law, the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) ruled on Sunday. The first paragraph of the third article of the emergency law, which allows the president to order arbitrary arrests, was seen as unconstitutional by the SCC. The article states the president is able to mandate the security apparatuses to issue arrest orders without getting judicial authorization. The SCC cancelled the article and withdrew this right from the president, which the court says would turn him into a dictator and not a president in a state governed by law. [DNE, 6/2/2013]

‘Murderers’ of Egyptian revolution’s icon, Khaled Said are released
Alexandria Criminal Court adjourned on Saturday the retrial of the policemen accused of killing Khaled Said – an iconic face of Egypt’s revolution – to 6 July and ordered their release. The court explains they must release them according to Article 143 of law 145, which sets a detention cap of 18 months. Shortly after the hearing was adjourned, the families of the accused attempted to assault Said’s mother and sister but security intervened and prevented an attack. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Alexandria Criminal Court on Saturday to protest the release of the two defendants. Political groups are planning to hold memorial services for Said. The Masr al-Hurreyya party called for two silent vigils for Said, one by the Qasr al-Nil Bridge in Cairo and the other near the corniche in Alexandria. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 6/1/2013]

Also of Interest:
Judicial authority law bases for absolute dictatorship – judge | Aswat Masriya
Coptic lawyer gets 1-year jail term for insulting Islam | Ahram Online, AP
Egypt interior minister wins appeal against 2-year sentence | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
Al-Khusus trial postponed | DNE
Black Bloc detainees released | DNE, Ahram Online
Egypt sentences five foreigners to death over drugs | AP, AMAY (Arabic)


Egypt launches first phase of plan to cut fuel subsidies
Egypt has begun implementing the first phase of a project to distribute petrol from depots to gas stations using smart cards as part of a plan to restructure the energy subsidies which use up around one fifth of the country’s budget, the Middle East News Agency reported. Egypt began on Saturday using smart cards to distribute gasoline and diesel in stations in order to control smuggling. The smart card determines the name of the station, the amount of the loaded gas and the date and area of usage. The Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation has started electronic linking between “Mastard” depot and several gas stations in Cairo and Giza. [Aswat Masriya, DNE, 6/2/2013]

Inflation hikes to 8.1 percent in April on currency slide
Egypt’s urban inflation accelerated to 8.1 percent in April compared to 7.6 percent in March as the government faces mounting pressure from the International Monetary Fund to lift fuel subsidies to secure a much-needed $4.8bn loan. According to a report by the Finance Ministry, the rising prices of food and beverages, housing, water, electricity, clothing, footwear, furnishing and equipment were the root cause of the rise in inflation. The report linked the hike in inflation to the constant weakening of the Egyptian pound against other currencies, especially the US dollar, adding that the bottlenecks on the supply side and the disturbance in distribution channels – particularly for diesel fuel – are other factors contributing to the increase. [DNE, 6/1/2013]

Also of Interest:
Tourism Ministry’s calls for Egyptian hotels to ‘go green’ draw skepticism | DNE
PM Qandil: No disagreement between Egypt and IMF Egypt Independent


US embassy warning over Giza pyramids is baseless: Minister
The US embassy warning claiming the Giza Pyramids was not safe for tourists is baseless, says Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Ahmed Eissa in a press statement on Saturday, as neither his ministry nor the tourism police have received any complaints from visitors. The US embassy in Cairo warned US nationals in Egypt on Friday to exercise caution and avoid visiting the Giza pyramids. The minister assures there is continuous cooperation between the ministry and police to guarantee that tourist areas are well-secured. Eissa urged all tour guides to head to the nearest police station or any security guards in the vicinity if any problem occurs. [Ahram Online, AP, 6/1/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt steps up security ahead of planned June 30 protests | Aswat Masriya
Egyptian authorities close roads leading to Interior Ministry | Aswat Masriya
Masked men kidnap deputy head of National Bank, demand LE 1 million | Ahram (Arabic)


Tagarod collects more than two million signatures, Tamarod campaigns abroad
The Tagarod petition campaign, intended to counter Tamarod, announced on Sunday that it has collected more than two million signatures since its inception and plans on collecting at least eight million more signatures over the next two weeks. Tagarod founder Assem Abdel Maged confirmed the campaign would call for a million man march after signatures are collected, scheduled for either 28 or 30 June. Meanwhile, overseas supporters of the ‘Rebel’ campaign are planning events to show their solidarity with the anti-government initiative. Supporters of the petition drive, which aims to collect signatures in support of a vote of no confidence in President Mohamed Morsi, have started to mobilize for mass rallies on 30 June. In Egypt, over 100,000 Egyptian Shiites have signed the Rebel campaign. [DNE, Ahram Online, 6/2/2013]

Rights organizations address arrests, assaults, and legislation
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) issued a joint statement with El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence on Sunday demanding the release of a 19 year-old protester from a psychiatric hospital. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) also condemned on Sunday the alleged assault of two detainees – accused of possession of unlicensed weapons – at the hands of security personnel. Meanwhile, Gamal Eid, executive director of the Arabic Network of Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said more than 200 Egyptians died during the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), as part of an ANHRI report released Sunday. A report released by EIPR, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and al-Karama Organization for Human Rights criticized the draft witness protection law, claiming it did not fulfill Egypt’s responsibility towards the United Nations’ Convention against Corruption, which Egypt signed and ratified. Ten other organizations also issued a statement condemning the frivolous lawsuits against organizers and supporters of the ‘Tamarod’ campaign. [DNE, AMAY, 6/2/2013]

Also of Interest:
Artists still protesting against Minister of Culture | DNE
Report: Egypt averaged two protests an hour in May | Egypt Independent
Workers protest for reinstatement | DNE
Egyptian customs officials to strike at 8 ports on Tuesday |  Ahram Online, DNE
Egyptian activists to protest for Ahmed Doma’s release | Ahram Online
Five protesters arrested outside Morsi’s home | Aswat Masriya


Ashton considers NGO draft law too restrictive
The government’s proposed NGO law is “potentially constraining”, said High Representative of the EU’s Union for Foreign Affairs Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission Catherine Ashton, according to a statement issued by her office on Sunday. “The High Representative fears that the draft law still contains elements that can unnecessarily constrain the work of NGOs in Egypt and hinder our capacity as a foreign donor to support their work,” read the statement. “The draft law has to be in line with the international standards and obligations of Egypt.” The statement said that the European Union had engaged with the government in providing technical advice in the process of drafting the new law that will regulate civil society organizations in Egypt. [DNE, Shorouk (Arabic), 6/2/2013]

Ethiopia studies on Nile dam fall short, Egypt says
Ethiopia has not thought hard enough about the impact of its ambitious dam project along the Nile, Egypt said on Sunday, underlining how countries downstream are concerned about its impact on water supplies. The Egyptian presidency was citing the findings of a report put together by a panel of experts from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the impact of the plan to build a $4.7 billion hydroelectric dam. Morsi said that the Nile dam could affect 18 percent of Egypt’s High Dam electricity production. According to an anonymous Egyptian government source, however, if Ethiopia and Egypt fail to come to an agreement about controversial new dam project on the Blue Nile, the matter could be taken to International Court of Justice. [Reuters, Shorouk (Arabic), Ahram Online, AMAY (Arabic), 6/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Istanbul protests will not affect Egyptian-Turkish business: Egyptian Chamber of Commerce | DNE

Photo: Hossam el-Hamalawy

Image: Protesters%20at%20Shura%20Council.jpg