Top News: Egypt Passes Electoral Law, Paves Way for Elections

Shura AFP Dec 26.jpg

Egypt’s Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, adopted on Thursday an electoral law as amended by the Constitutional Court, clearing the way for President Mohamed Morsi to set a date for lower house elections.  


Egypt passes electoral law, paves way for elections 
Egypt’s Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, adopted on Thursday an electoral law as amended by the Constitutional Court, clearing the way for President Mohamed Morsi to set a date for lower house elections. Presidential Legal Counselor Fouad Gadallah said President Mohamed Morsi will issue a decree in the coming few hours in which he will call voters to cast their votes in the House of Representatives elections. On Monday, the SCC said the Shura must redistribute electoral constituencies to better reflect population density and ensure regions are fairly represented in the House of Representatives, sparking intense debate. Increasing the number of seats from 498 to 546 was among the amendments that the council agreed on in today’s session. [Reuters, SIS, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, EGYNews (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), 2/21/2013]

Sources claim Brotherhood mired by dissent over Salafi tensions
Sources close to the Muslim Brotherhood’s guidance bureau said tensions between the Brotherhood and Salafi groups are continuing to rise. The sources, who preferred to remain anonymous, said they witnessed a serious dispute Wednesday morning amid Brotherhood officials over whether to attempt reconciliation with the Salafi Dawah movement and the Nour Party. The relationship has soured recently after the president’s office dismissed Khaled Alam Eddin, the presidential advisor for environmental affairs, who plans to sue Morsi for defamation. Having both won the majority of seats, the FJP and the Nour Party have repeatedly dismissed talks of an electoral alliance in the upcoming parliamentary elections. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 2/21/2013]

Morsi allocates EGP 400m for canal provinces, civil disobedience continues
President Mohamed Morsi will propose a draft law to the Shura Council to reopen the Port Said Duty Free Zone, which was shut down 2002, according to a statement released by the presidency. The statement also outlined a proposed development plan targeting the canal governorates of Port Said, Suez and Ismailia, in order to create new job opportunities, using EGP 400m yearly from Suez Canal revenues for the three provinces. The president’s social communication’s adviser, Emad Abdel Ghafour, plans to visit Port Said in two days, a source close to the president’s office said. [DNE, Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic), 2/20/2013]

Egypt’s military signals impatience with president
Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been meeting without its nominal head, President Mohamed Morsi, to discuss domestic developments amid concerns over Egypt’s ongoing political crisis, military sources told Ahram Online Wednesday. According to these sources, who spoke on strict condition of anonymity, recent tensions between the presidency and the military were prompted by this recent round of meetings, in which some SCAF members voiced concern over national development and the viability of the central government. [Ahram Online, AP, 2/21/2013]

Also of Interest:
Housing minister unveils first phase of national development plan | Egypt Independent
Ayman Nour ‘ready to head the government if Morsi asks’ | Ahram Online
Cabinet approves new law promoting reconciliation | Egypt Independent
Former NDP members to form new party | Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic)
Shura Council passes Saudi loan approved by Brotherhood, rejected by Salafis | Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic)


Committee on amending constitution formed
Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki said the Higher Committee on Legislation under Prime Minister Hisham Qandil has agreed to determine priorities of laws and legislative plan for the coming stage. He said a committee has been formed to amend the constitution, which includes Dr. Ahmed Kamal Abul Magd, Dr. Adel Qoura, Dr. Serry Seyam, Counselor Mohamed Fouad Gadallah and Mohamed Tousson. [SIS, 2/21/2013]

Alexandria court bans unofficial fatwas
The Alexandria Administrative Court banned Wednesday the issuance of religious edicts or fatwas from organizations with the exception al-Azhar and Dar al-Iftaa. The court also prohibited the use of mosques as partisan tools to promote political objectives. [Egypt Independent, 2/20/2013]

Also of Interest:

Lawyers’ group demand Abu Islam’s prosecution | Egypt Independent


Petroleum Minister: Mazut subsidies to end in three years
Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Osama Kamal said Wednesday that the price of mazut, a fuel commonly used for industrial purposes, will continue to rise after a series of government imposed fuel hikes were announced Tuesday. The government aims to sell the fuel at market price within three years. According to industry sources, some of the price increases to fuels like mazut and locally produced natural gas are 50 percent higher than previous levels, triggering protests by factory owners affected by the increase. [Egypt Independent, Ahram (Arabic), 2/20/2013]

Egypt to seek IMF talks as it reveals grim economic data
Egypt plans to invite an IMF mission to Cairo within a week, the government said on Thursday, signalling an imminent resumption of negotiations over a $4.8 billion loan as it struggles with an acute foreign currency shortage. Planning Minister Ashraf al-Araby said foreign investment in Egypt had all but dried up and announced grim economic data, exposing the depth of the country’s financial crisis before elections expected in the spring. [Reuters, 2/21/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt govt offers convicted investors ‘reconciliation’ | Reuters/Ahram Online
Egypt economic growth declines 15.3% in 2nd quarter of 2012/13 | Ahram Online


Three detained for killing Suez protesters on revolution anniversary
The Suez General Prosecution has ordered three people, including a conscript, detained for  four days pending investigation on charges of killing protesters in the Canal city during clashes on the second anniversary of Egypt’s uprising, January 25, state-run MENA news agency reported on Wednesday. According to Suez security chief Adel Refaat, the three arrested were filmed while shooting at police officers and protesters during the violence that erupted in the city. [Ahram Online, 2/21/2013]

Army reacts to video of military vehicle bearing religious slogan
Armed Forces spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Ali said legal action has been taken against the driver of an army vehicle that bore a sticker with a religious slogan. Presenter Reem Maged aired a video Wednesday of an armed forces vehicle bearing a sticker that read "No god but Allah, Mohamed is the messenger of Allah" on Baladna Bel Masry talk show. [Egypt Independent, 2/21/2013]

Also of Interest:
Political conference held in Sinai | DNE


Civil disobedience in Port Said enters fifth day, with escalations 
Civil disobedience in Port Said entered the fifth day on Thursday, with popular movements calling for escalations. Popular movements called on residents to refrain from paying their electricity, phone, gas and water bills in protest against what they described as the regime’s negligence. On Sunday, hundreds of residents started a civil disobedience, demanding justice and an apology from the president and his administration for what they believe is negligence of their demands. Authorities have yet to react to the ongoing turmoil in the canal city. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 2/21/2013]

Egypt rights groups allege rising police brutality
Egyptian rights groups alleged Wednesday that police abuse and brutality are on the rise in detention centers and at demonstrations, which have intensified since the second anniversary of the uprising that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. More than a dozen groups charged in a statement that police were reverting back to the systematic torture that prevailed under Mubarak’s autocratic regime. "Some of the crimes have even gone beyond that," the statement said. The  Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) found that by law police are allowed to carry a substantial amount of live ammunition both on their person and within their vehicles, contradicting the official position taken by the Ministry of Interior. [AP, DNE, 2/20/2013]

Also of Interest:
Media group says teen tortured by police in YouTube video interview | Egypt Independent
Tahrir Bodyguard launches free self-defense training for women | Egypt Independent
Copts protest Pope’s political statements | Egypt Independent
Interior ministry ready to compromise for traffic in Tahrir Square | Ahram Online  


Saudi Arabia gives US$25 million to MENA transition fund
The Saudi Fund for Development has agreed to give US$25 million to the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa Transition Fund, bank officials announced on Wednesday. The MENA Transition Fund, established by the Deauville Partnership, provides grants aimed at improving governance, investment and job creation in Arab World countries in transition, namely Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen. [Egypt Independent, 2/21/2013]

Photo: AFP

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