Top News: Egypt’s March Parliamentary Elections on Hold

Egypt’s parliamentary elections are on hold until further review of a ruling on the unconstitutionality of a law defining voter constituencies, the spokesman for the Higher Electoral Commision (HEC) said on Sunday. The Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) ruled earlier in the day that Article 3 the Constituencies Law issued by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was “unconstitutional,” with certain constituencies drawn incorrectly. 


Sisi talks Arab defense, Qatar, Turkey in Al Arabiya interview
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi spoke with the Saudi-owned channel Al-Arabiya on Saturday, tackling several issues that included his proposal for an inter-Arab joint defense force, as well as developments in diplomatic relations with Qatar and Turkey. Sisi reiterated that the security of Gulf nations is part and parcel of Egypt’s own security. To that end, Sisi proposed what he called a joint Arab defense force to counter terrorism in the region. Speaking of tense relations with Qatar, Sisi pointed to a Saudi-sponsored bid for reconciliation between both countries, which was halted by the death of late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz. “ “We are keen on appreciating the late [Saudi] King [Abdullah] by respecting his initiative. I want this to be clear to everybody.” Sisi also accused Turkey of intervening in his country’s domestic affairs, as well as insulting the state through the media. He said that all these attempts to change realities in Egypt are also ways of trying to influence the will of the Egyptian people. He also said that a deal between France and Egypt to purchase 5.2 billion Euros worth of French military equipment will be partially financed by a 3.2 billion Euro loan from France. Meanwhile, in an interview with al-Sharq al-Aswat, Sisi said the Muslim Brotherhood’s return to political activity depends on the public’s will. “That question should be directed to Egyptians and the public opinion and whatever they approve, I shall apply immediately,” Sisi said,  while also pointing to what he suggested as a popular indignance towards the Brotherhood. [Egypt Independent, 2/28/2015]

Egypt’s March parliamentary elections on hold
Egypt’s parliamentary elections are on hold until further review of a ruling on the unconstitutionality of a law defining voter constituencies, the spokesman for the Higher Electoral Commision (HEC) said on Sunday. The Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) ruled earlier in the day that Article 3 the Constituencies Law issued by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was “unconstitutional,” with certain constituencies drawn incorrectly. The court rejected the lawsuits filed against the Political Rights Law and the House of Representatives Law, both also issued in 2014. The supreme court’s rulings are binding to the state and cannot be appealed.  Sisi issued a statement on Sunday afternoon, urging the cabinet to amend the law within a month, while the HEC said in a statement that “a new schedule will be announced once the legislative amendments [are made].” The ruling was met with mixed reactions from Egypt’s political parties. Critics hold the government responsible for the hiccup, saying authorities turned a blind eye to fears they had expressed over the constitutionality of the legislation regulating the poll, among them the Salafi Nour Party.The Conference Party criticized the wasted time in the past ten months, adding that Egypt’s political landscape is now getting fuzzier as the fate of an assembly is again thrown in limbo. The Egyptian Social Democratic Party accused the government of giving its war against terrorism precedent over electing a parliament. The Geel Democratic Party described the ruling as a positive step, but added that the court disregarded other constitutional defects in the parliamentary law. The National Movement Party, on the other hand, said the verdict shows the state respects the rule of law, and this will be “a proof of the return of the state of law and the application of the constitution,” while the Free Egyptians Party said it had no objections to the court’s decision. The Independent Current welcomed the verdict. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, The Guardian, 3/2/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Prime Minister holds meeting on Sinai development | Egypt Independent
  • Housing minister inspects WadiKurkur development project | Egypt Independent
  • Parliamentary candidates used bribes, other promotion violations: Report | DNE


Egyptian court rules Hamas a terrorist organization
The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters on Saturday ruled Hamas a terrorist organization, a month after the group’s military wing, al-Qassam Brigades, was also designated a terror group by the same court. Samir Sabry, a lawyer, accused Hamas Leader Khaled Meshaal of “planning an escalation against the Egyptian army in Sinai,” in the lawsuit he filed to designate Hamas a “terrorist” organization. In the details of its ruling, the court accused Hamas of targeting civilians, policemen and military men in attacks it carried out in support of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas criticized the court ruling in a statement issued by its spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri. He described the ruling as “surprising” and “dangerous” adding that it “targets the Palestinian people and the movements of resistance.” Gaza residents said they fear growing isolation and more hardships after the court ruling, with some blaming the Islamic militant Hamas while others said Egypt is being unreasonable. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 3/1/2015]

Four Brotherhood members sentenced to death; life in prison for supreme guide
The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced thirteen Muslim Brotherhood leaders to life in prison, as well as the execution of four lower-profile members, on Saturday, for inciting violence and the murder of nine people during clashes outside the group’s headquarters in Moqattam in July 2013. The senior figures included in the life sentences are the group’s Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, his deputy Khairat al-Shater, former parliament speaker Mohamed Saad al-Katatni, former youth minister Osama Yassin, former Supreme Guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef, and leading members Mohamed al-Beltagy, Essam al-Erian. The verdicts can be appealed. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, AFP, Reuters, 2/28/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt sentences 168 to two years in jail for 2012 US embassy violence | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Court adjourns lawsuit labeling Qatar, Turkey pro-terrorism countries | Egypt Independent, DNE
  • Four arrested for “dog killing” incident to face court this week | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt court halts Press Syndicate midterm elections, syndicate plans to appeal |Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, DNE
  • Egypt’s top prosecutor releases 120 preventively detained prisoners | Aswat Masriya
  • Twelve minors acquitted of charges among January 25 anniversary detainees | DNE


Egypt receives $23 billion in aid from Gulf in eighteen months
Egypt has obtained $23 billion in aid from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait in the last eighteen months since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted, Investment Minister Ashraf Salman said on Monday.  He added that the aid included oil shipments, cash grants and deposits in Egypt’s central bank. Meanwhile, a deal between UAE-based firm Arabtec and the Egyptian military to build a million housing units has been suspended, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces’ Engineering Authority Major General Kamel al-Wazeersaid. “Any investor who wants to enter the Egyptian market should bring his money from abroad and not from Egyptian banks, and should use Egyptian labor and raw materials. Those conditions have not been met, so the project has been temporarily suspended,” Wazeer explained. [Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 3/2/2015]

Also of Interest

  • EFG Hermes plans to invest $100 million in renewable energy in Egypt | Aswat Masriya
  • Minister says Egypt to double FDI this fiscal year | Reuters
  • Review of investment and tax incentives law to be concluded Tuesday | Egypt Independent
  • Panamanian ships top Suez Canal client list in January | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt minister says Egypt started to devalue pound to solve repatriation problem | Reuters
  • Prime minister says 2,000 companies, twenty countries to attend EEDC | Egypt Independent, SIS
  • Ministry: Egypt’s budget deficit increased by 32.9 percent to EGP159 billion in July-January 2014/15 | Egypt Independent, Mada Masr
  • IMF chief to attend Egypt’s economic summit | MENA
  • Minister: LPG to be increased 150 percent to solve cylinder crisis  | Egypt Independent


Egyptian lawyers protest alleged police killing of colleague
Over one hundred lawyers staged a protest outside the headquarters of the Lawyers Syndicate in Downtown Cairo on Sunday over the torture and death of 28-year-old lawyer Karim Hamdy in North Cairo’s Matariya Police Station on Tuesday. They then marched to the adjacent office of the Prosecutor General. Participants announced they would organize a follow-up protest on March 9 in the hope of realizing justice for the deceased lawyer. Several protesters held photos of Hamdy, chanting slogans calling for the resignation of the Interior Minister and declaring, “The Ministry of Interior are thugs.” Earlier on Saturday, a group of lawyers defied a gag order by the Prosecutor General concerning investigations into the alleged torture death of Hamdy in police custody, by creating a Facebook page, “All Lawyers are Karim Hamdy,” where they continue to post details about the case. [ Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 3/1/2015]

Ministry dissolves 112 Brotherhood-affiliated NGOs
Minister of Social Solidarity GhadaWaly issued a decision Sunday to dissolve 112 more non-governmental organizations (NGOs) affiliated with the now “terrorist” Muslim Brotherhood that were registered between 2011 and 2012. The dissolved organizations include thirty-nine in Menoufiya, fifteen in BeniSuef, thirty-five in Daqahliya, seventeen in Gharbeya, five in Ismailia, and one in Qena. In an official statement, Waly explained that “the decision comes in accordance with the court order that banned the Muslim Brotherhood and consequently ordered the banning of activities and confiscating properties of organizations affiliated with the group.” Waly confirmed that these organizations “do not have headquarters and did not exercise any activities for a while.” [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, DNE, 3/1/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Belly dancer Sofinar arrested over ‘insulting Egyptian flag’ | Ahram Online
  • Egyptians mock ISIS jihadist anthem | Ahram Online
  • Critic says Egypt’s school curriculum propagates violence | Egypt Independent
  • Clashes between Cairo University students and security on campus | Egypt Independent
  • Minor clashes between students, security at Al-Azhar University in Assiut | DNE
  • First lady pays first visit to Suez Canal Project | Egypt Independent
  • Pope in Minya to offer condolences for victims killed in Libya | Egypt Independent
  • Bread distribution workers occupy Kafr al-Dawar municipality offices | Egypt Independent
  • Ministry admits regulation flaw, students decry election delay|Egypt Independent
  • Egypt’s PM, Coptic pope attend conference on ‘virtues of Islam’ | Ahram Online
  • Pope Tawadros: Modernity does not mean abandoning religion | Egypt Independent
  • Columnist urges release of Canadian journalist, ridicules Clooney pressures | Egypt Independent
  • Columnist slams presenter as “zionist rabbi” over activist remarks | Egypt Independent
  • Animals rights activists stage protest over slaughtered dog | Egypt Independent
  • NGOs: ‘Terrorism entities law’ vague | Egypt Independent


Two killed in Upper Egypt bomb blast
Two were killed and eleven injured in Upper Egypt’s Aswan on Sunday when an improvised bomb went off near a police station and next to the al-Nasr Mosque near the Nile River, amid frequent attacks across the country. The deceased are a woman and a young man, while a police conscript is among the injured. Preliminary investigations revealed that the explosion resulted from a bomb planted by unidentified persons in an electricity transformer outside the police station, reported MENA citing Aswan Security Director Mohamed Mostafa.[Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, AP, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 3/1/2015]

Ten injured in bomb blast at Egypt’s High Court
An improvised explosive device exploded Monday in front of the main gate of the High Court in central Cairo injuring ten, Cairo Security Director Khaled Youssef said. The wounded included three officers, two conscripts and four civilians, with one person in critical condition. The bomb was hidden under a car parked near the country’s highest criminal court, where the Egypt’s top prosecutor’s office lies – and went off in crowded Cairo’s Ramses neighborhood. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, AP, DNE, AFP, 3/2/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Electricity pylon collapses after explosion in Egypt’s Sharqiya | Ahram Online
  • Security sources say shell hits house in North Sinai, girl killed | Aswat Masriya
  • Conscript injured in North Sinai attack according to security sources | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt’s army spokesperson says 173 militants killed in February | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Eight alleged extremists killed in North Sinai raids | Egypt Independent
  • ‘Islamic State’ affiliates claim parades in North Sinai | DNE


Egypt’s Sisi meets new Saudi King to discuss Middle East crises
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in Riyadh on Sunday for the pair’s first in-depth talks on regional issues at a time of unprecedented turmoil in the Middle East. The meeting was aimed at strengthening bilateral ties, as well as discussing the crises in the Middle East and addressing security in the Red Sea in light of growing political chaos in Yemen, Sisi said. Salman broke official protocol to meet Sisi at the airport, a pointed mark of favor towards the Egyptian president at a time when some Arab media have asked whether the close ties that existed between the two states under the late King Abdullah would continue. [Reuters, AP, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 3/1/2015]

US Senator John McCain calls out Egypt’s human rights, reaffirms military support
Senator John McCain, Chairman of the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee, highlighted human rights concerns and the Egypt’s political trajectory in a Friday statement. In the statement, McCain  called for the “release [of] those who have been wrongfully imprisoned.” Referring to the stiff sentencing of prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fattah alongside twenty-four others, McCain questioned the “deeply restrictive anti-protest law that infringes on internationally recognized rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association… [which] call into question the direction in which Egypt is headed.” Egypt has “legitimate security concerns” and maintains that there should be continued US support for its military, he continued. However, he cautioned that “there does not have to be a trade-off between democracy and security, and the need to defeat ISIL and other extremists groups in the region must not blind us to our human rights commitments.” [DNE, 2/28/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s Sisi to meet with top Russian security officials | Ahram Online
  • Russian delegation visits site of Egypt nuclear facility | Aswat Masriya
  • Egyptian defense minister leaves for Moscow | Aswat Masriya
  • UK minister ‘concerned’ by Egypt’s lack of parliament | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt ministers head to Sudan for Ethiopia dam meetings | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Sisi says media attacks on Qatar reflection of public opinion | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s Sisi to meet former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder | Ahram Online
  • More than 25,000 Egyptians returned home from Libya in past 2 weeks: Officials | Ahram Online
  • Dozens of Egyptians return home in first evacuation through Algeria | Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr
  • Tripartite committee on Renaissance Dam to convene Wednesday | Anadolu Agency
  • Erdogan denies plans for Egypt reconciliation during Saudi visit | Egypt Independent
  • Canada donates US$8 million to back school feeding programs in Egypt | Egypt Independent
  • Trade Minister meets new US Ambassador | SIS