Top News: Egypt’s Imminent Cabinet Reshuffle

Qandil at desk.jpg

The Egyptian cabinet will be reshuffled by the end of the week, a state-run newspaper reported, pointing to a delay in efforts to revamp a government widely criticized for failing to get the economy moving and to conclude a much-needed IMF loan deal. Recent reports indicate, however, that the changes may come sooner. 


Egypt’s imminent cabinet reshuffle
The Egyptian cabinet will be reshuffled by the end of the week, a state-run newspaper reported, pointing to a delay in efforts to revamp a government widely criticized for failing to get the economy moving and to conclude a much-needed IMF loan deal. Recent reports indicate, however, that the changes may come sooner. Dr. Hisham Qandil said, Monday, that the reshuffle will include 11 ministerial posts, and with the swearing in process held on Tuesday at the latest. Qandil headed to the president’s residence to inform him of the results of his meetings with candidates. Presidential spokesman, Omar Amer, said on Friday that rumors of President Mohamed Morsi assuming the role of prime minister are baseless, also denied news reports that Qandil would be replaced. [Reuters, AMAY (Arabic), EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), SIS, 5/6/2013]

Islamists quit Strong Egypt
Strong Egypt political bureau members Hassan al-Bashbishy and Mostafa Kamshish announced their resignation on Saturday, citing anti-Islamist sentiment within the party as the reason for the decision. Al-Bashbishy and Kamshish are both former Muslim Brotherhood members who left the Brotherhood around the time of the presidential elections for refusing to support the group’s candidate and eventual winner President Mohamed Morsi. The rift between them and the party’s youth began in November ahead of the referendum on the draft constitution. Al-Bashbishy and Kamshish argued that the party should vote for the proposed draft to achieve stability in the country, while the youth members wanted to vote against the draft. [DNE, 5/5/2013]

Egypt politicians condemn Israeli attack on Syria
The Muslim and Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Strong Egypt Party condemned the Israeli attack on Syria. Strong Egypt’s statement described the shelling as “an extension of despicable acts sponsored by the US administration.” The official FJP statement called on all Arab states to stand united against the attacks, and to come together to find a swift resolution to the Syrian crisis. The Shura Council’s Arab and Foreign Affairs Committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss the attack on Syria. Meanwhile, Nobel Laureate and prominent opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei warned against the repercussions of continued violence in Syria on the Arab region, saying that peaceful settlement is the only solution for this crisis. [Shorouk (Arabic), Aswat Masriya, 5/6/2013]

Also of Interest:
Morsi officially withdraws complaints against media | DNE
Morsi meets university student union reps, says will review detainees cases | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya
Egypt opposition can’t harvest Brotherhood unpopularity | Reuters
Egypt’s Morsi reminisces on Gaza ceasefire, speaks of post-revolution ‘dilemma’ | Ahram Online, The Globe and Mail
Al-Dostour Party holds elections in Alexandria | DNE
Abu Ismail faces investigation | DNE
Morsi forms legal consultative panel | SIS, Shorouk (Arabic)
CAO: President gave instructions to facilitate procedures for officials to examine all presidency’s expenses | SIS


Some Mubarak-era personalities see reprieve from the courts
The North Cairo Criminal Court acquitted and ordered the release of former Housing Minister Ibrahim Soliman from illicit gains charges on Sunday. Soliman was facing charges of squandering public funds and illegal seizure of state lands as well. Egypt’s Criminal Court also lifted on Sunday the assets-freeze order previously imposed on the wife of the country’s former minister of trade and industry, Rachid Mohamed Rachid, said his lawyer. Tareq Aziz, lawyer to Egypt’s fugitive business tycoon Hussein Salem, announced Saturday that the prosecutor-general is expected to respond to an offer for settlement within hours. Salem’s defense team had made a settlement offer to the north Cairo court attorney general earlier this week, which entails giving up 75 percent of Salem’s wealth in Egypt and 55 percent of his wealth in Spain, where he currently resides, and in Switzerland. Public Funds Prosecution, however, ordered Sunday the 15 day detention of Anas al-Feky, Egypt’s former information minister, pending further investigation in fresh graft accusations. [DNE, Ahram Online, 5/5/2013]

Trials of three activists postponed
A court in Tanta has adjourned the trial of Ahmed Doma for insulting the president until 13 May, al-Ahram Arabic news website reported on Sunday. The Gharbiya security directorate intensified security measures and forces in the Tanta Court complex vicinity ahead of the opening court session on Sunday. Meanwhile, an Alexandria misdemeanor appeal court has adjourned the case of political activist Hassan Mostafa to 18 May in order to hear prosecution witnesses. The 30-year-old marketing manager appealed a two-year prison sentence he received in March for assaulting a justice ministry official. Lastly, the trial of blogger Ahmed Anwar, who is charged with insulting the Ministry of Interior, has been postponed to 1 June. Anwar was not present during the court hearing, which was postponed by Tanta Court. “My lawyer advised me not to go. He said I would be taken into custody if I went,” Anwar said. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 5/5/2013]

Also of Interest:
Report of the Public Prosecutor’s office: 107.8k cases and claims in 2012, most resolved | Ahram (Arabic)
Three sentenced to prison over Egypt train crash | Aswat Masriya
Abdel Meguid Mahmoud calls for rejection of the appeal on the appointment of the prosecutor-general | EGYNews (Arabic)


Maximum wage set starting next Tuesday
Maximum wages will be applied starting next Tuesday “retrospective from January 2013 on all administrative leadership in state positions”, as confirmed by a media spokesperson at the Central Agency for Organization and Administration (CAOA). Government employees will receive optional declaration opportunities to announce any remuneration they took, and which stand at over 35 times the initial appointment wages for higher education graduates. [DNE, 5/6/2013]

Tourism Minister: Egypt to shut hotels if staff sexually harass tourists; Booze & bikinis welcome
Hotels will be closed if staff are found to have sexually harassed tourists, Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou has said. The tourism ministry has recorded 150 cases of sexual harassment against tourists over the last two years. There have also been three recorded rapes in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh. He also said that Egypt is open to visitors who drink alcohol and wear bikinis as it sets out to boost numbers by at least a fifth this year. [Ahram Online, Reuters, 5/5/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian billionaire Sawiris returns home to warm welcome | Reuters, SIS
Minister of Supply Inspects Giza bakeries | DNE


Shots at PM’s convoy not political act: Spokesman
Egyptian police on Sunday detained a young man and his four companions, pending investigation, after he opened fire on Prime Minister Hisham Qandil’s convoy in Cairo in an incident the authorities, including the Ministry of Interior and Cabinet, said had no political motive. Qandil was not injured. The young men were on their way to settle a feud when their vehicle crossed paths with Qandil’s convoy in Dokki, a residential and commercial district of the capital, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. [Ahram Online, AP, Reuters, Shorouk (Arabic), 5/6/2013]

Gunmen kill alcohol seller in Egypt’s Sinai
Gunmen shot a man dead who was selling alcohol in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Sunday in an attack security officials said was likely carried out by Islamist militants. The four gunmen killed Rami Ahmed, 28, at a bar on a main road near al-Arish, a town in the northern Sinai Peninsula. It is an area where Islamist militant influence has expanded since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak more than two years ago. [Reuters, Ahram (Arabic), 5/5/2013]

Egypt’s FJP denies mob killing of its leader’s son is political
Egypt’s ruling Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) denies that the killing of the son of one of its leaders in Egypt’s Nile Delta Sharqiya governorate is political. Hundreds of al-Qataweya village residents dragged 16-year-old Youssef, son of Rabie Lasheen, head of the FJP office in the village, onto the street and beat him to death on Friday. "The incident is not politically-motivated" reads the statement flatly on their office’s Facebook page. [Ahram Online, 5/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt and Saudi Arabia hold joint military training exercise | DNE
Military delegation heads to Turkey | DNE, Aswat Masriya
12 alleged Black Bloc members arrested for attacking High Court | Ahram Online, Reuters
Armed forces discover 276 Gaza tunnels; destroy 154 | Shorouk (Arabic)


Calls for protests for political detainees, judiciary; Clashes break out in Kafr al-Sheikh
Dozens of protesters demonstrated in front of the High Court building on Saturday against the arrest of seven youth near the Fifth Settlement Court. The detained youth were sentenced to five years in jail on charges of “destroying the criminal court building, a police truck and booth, and insulting policemen.” The 6 April Democratic Front has announced that there will be numerous demonstrations in different governorates against detainment of movement member as well as other detainees. At least 24 political groups, movements and NGOs have also called for a protest on Wednesday to support the judiciary against “systematic targeting” by the regime. The groups called for demonstrations in front of Judges’ Clubs in all governorates as the rift between the judiciary and the regime has widened over the past weeks. Meanwhile, clashes broke out on Sunday evening between members of the Muslim Brotherhood and protesters from the opposition, leaving four people injured in Kafr al-Sheikh. Around 50 opponents to the Muslim Brotherhood attacked a hall where the Islamist group was holding a Labor Day celebration, besieging its members. [Aswat Masriya, DNE, 5/6/2013]

Government and military representatives attend Cathedral
Prime Minister Hesham Qandil met Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II at Saint Mark’s Cathedral to wish him and the Coptic Orthodox community a happy Easter on behalf of the government on Sunday. Also present at the cathedral on Sunday was a military delegation representing Minister of Defence and armed forces Commander-in-Chief General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as well as several cabinet ministers and representatives of political parties. President Mohamed Morsi wished Tawadros a happy Easter over the phone. Presidential and governmental representatives received almost no reaction, whereas al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb received warm applause when Tawadros informed worshippers he had sent a telegram wishing them a happy Easter, as did al-Sisi. [DNE, AP, Aswat Masriya, 5/5/2013]

Women’s rights groups demand end to defamation campaigns
Seven women’s and human rights groups demanded an end to targeting of female political activists by media. They also demanded an apology to activist and member of the Social Popular Alliance Party Yasmin Hossam al-Din. On 2 May, the party released a statement condemning an attempt discredit its members after two news agencies published a video of Hossam al-Din getting into overalls on 1 May in solidarity with workers during a march on Labor Day. [DNE, 5/5/2013]

Also of Interest:
Trains resume Cairo-Aswan service after 16-hour protest blocked railway | Ahram Online
Egypt initiative counters sexual harassment, provides "safe car" service | Aswat Masriya


Egypt condemns Israeli ‘exploitation’ of Syria crisis
The Egyptian presidency has condemned an Israeli raid near Damascus on Sunday and accused it of exploiting the crisis in Syria. The presidency rejected any foreign military intervention in Syria, saying the country’s sovereignty must be respected. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied recent media reports that Egypt’s acting ambassador in Syria has returned to Damascus, thus re-establishing diplomatic relations between Egypt and Syria. He also denied any Iranian pressure on Egypt to change its stance on the Syrian crisis. Regional and Western diplomats in Cairo have told Ahram Online that Cairo and Tehran are both working on a blueprint for a peace plan for Syria that could be “swallowed” by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. [Ahram Online, SIS, Aswat Masriya, 5/6/2013]

Australia suspends livestock trade to Egypt
Australia’s livestock industry has suspended the export of livestock to Egypt after a video depicting animal cruelty assumed to be from an Egyptian slaughterhouse. Despite the decision taken by the industry, Australia’s agriculture minister said on Saturday the live export trade to Egypt has a bright future if animal welfare outcomes could be maintained, Australian media reported. The controversy began when the animal rights group “Animals Australia” investigated claims of animal abuse in Egypt. Investigations produced a video which incriminates the only two accredited slaughter houses in Egypt. Further investigations by the group concluded with what they called “damning” evidence of “Australian cattle being subjected to brutal treatment”. [DNE, Reuters, 5/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Fishermen apprehended once more off Libyan coast | DNE
Morsi to visit Brazil on Tuesday to discuss bilateral and economic relations | Shorouk (Arabic)

Photo: Hisham Qandil Facebook page


Image: Qandil%20at%20desk.jpg