Top News: Egypt’s New Presidential Election Law to Be Issued March 1

A new law aimed at regulating Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections is expected to be issued March 1, a week earlier than expected. A judicial council should likely finish revising the law in the next few days and then submit it to interim President Adly Mansour, who is expected to officially endorse and issue the law on March 8, said Magdy al-Agaty, deputy chairman of the State Council and its affiliated Fatwa and Legislation Department.


Mehleb names new minister of military production, manpower, and more
Egypt’s new premier, Ibrahim Mehleb, pursued meetings with candidates for ministerial posts Thursday to form a new government almost two months ahead of a decisive presidential poll. Most of cabinet portfolios, expected to be 33 according to state news agency MENA, were assigned Wednesday, with a full swearing-in expected to take place by Saturday. Twelve ministers have been amalgamated into six portfolios, to the dismay of some. These include the ministries of trade and industry, planning and cooperation, youth and sports, higher education and scientific research, local and administrative development as well as transitional justice and parliamentary affairs. Daily News Egypt and Ahram Online have published names of new and existing ministers. While reports indicate that Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will remain in his position of minister of defense, Mehleb said that the president would decide as sovereign ministers are selected by the president, according to Egypt Independent. The position of minister of culture has proven tricky to fill, with actor Mohamed Sobhy declining the post for personal reasons, while Mehleb retracted his offer to appoint Ghazali Harb following complaints by prominent intellectuals. According to independent daily Tahrir, Ahmed Megahed is being considered for the post. According to Ahram Gate, Mehleb told a press conference that the formation of the new cabinet will be finalized Thursday. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, 2/27/2014]

Egypt’s new presidential election law to be issued March 1
A new law aimed at regulating Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections is expected to be issued March 1, a week earlier than expected. A judicial council should likely finish revising the law in the next few days and then submit it to interim President Adly Mansour, who is expected to officially endorse and issue the law on March 8, said Magdy al-Agaty, deputy chairman of the State Council and its affiliated Fatwa and Legislation Department. Al-Agaty released a public statement on Wednesday indicating that the council and Mansour’s legal team had reached a settlement over controversial articles, including article 7, which opened up the results of presidential elections to appeals from both politicians and citizens. Following amendments to the article, candidates and citizens will still be allowed to file appeals against the election results, but only within two days of the official announcement from the Presidential Election Commission (PEC), the five-member judicial body tasked with supervising the upcoming presidential polls. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 2/26/2014]

Also of Interest:
Challenges await Egypt new cabinet ahead of presidential poll |  DNE
Egypt president issues decree to form national security council | Aswat Masriya
Armed Forces law amended | SIS, Ahram (Arabic)


Second Morsi case suspended as lawyers demand new judges
Cairo Criminal Court suspended Thursday afternoon the trial of former president Mohamed Morsi and thirty-five other Muslim Brotherhood leaders on charges of espionage. The suspension is to allow the court to look into defense lawyer demands that trial judges be changed on the basis of claimed faults in trial procedures. The trial was resumed earlier Thursday after it was adjourned Sunday. On Monday, presiding judge Shaaban al-Shamy suspended another case against Morsi for the same reason. [Ahram Online, AFP/DNE, Egypt Independent, 2/27/2014]

Shia activist sentenced to five years in jail for ‘contempt of religion’
Cairo Misdemeanors Court has sentenced a Shia activist to five years in jail with hard labour for attempting to storm al-Hussein Mosque and insult the Prophet Mohamed’s companions. Shia activist Amr Abdullah was arrested in November 2013 during a fight with Salafists at al-Hussein Mosque during the commemoration of Emam al-Hussein’s martydom on the Day of Ashura. Earlier Wednesday, 30-year-old Abdullah was convicted of contempt of religion, insulting the Prophet Mohamed’s companions and attempting to storm Al-Hussein Mosque. [Ahram Online, 2/26/2014]

Also of Interest:
Court postpones trial of Safwat al-Sherif, his two sons to April 30 | Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic)
Zahi Hawass acquitted of illicit gain charges | Egypt Independent
Trial of twenty-one accused of storming al-Azhar postponed to March 25 | AMAY (Arabic)
Fayoum court sentences 110 Muslim Brotherhood to two years prison in absentia | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)
ANHRI denounces sentencing of Strong Egypt members | DNE
Seventeen Brotherhood supporters arrested over violence charges | Egypt Independent


UAE aims to ensure its billions are spent wisely in post-Morsi Egypt
Now that Gulf governments have underwritten almost $7 billion in aid, the United Arab Emirates is trying to ensure that its latest tranche of $2.9 billion is judiciously deployed, advocating reforms and helping to craft measures for stimulus measures that will help put the economy on track. [FT, 2/26/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egypt to lift home ownership rates | DNE
Egypt bourse retreats on political uncertainty | Reuters, Egypt Independent
The ABCs of VAT | Mada Masr
Challenges await Egypt new cabinet | AFP
Egyptian Pound flat in official and black market trade | DNE
Blog: To cut or not cut? Egypt faces rates dilemma | WSJ


Al Jazeera calls for embassy protests demanding journalists’ release
Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera has called for protests outside Egyptian embassies across the world on Thursday to demand the release of four of its journalists detained in Egypt, some of whom are accused of terror-related charges. Egyptian officials have said the case is not linked to freedom of expression and that the journalists raised suspicions by operating without official permission. “Al Jazeera hopes through the attention of the world’s media and partners, pressure can be brought to bear on the Egyptian authorities,” Al Jazeera said in a statement. The media campaign will include protest vigils in thirty cities across the world on Thursday in which international media rights organizations will take part, as well as online petitions to embassies to condemn the arrests, Ghassan Abu Hussein, Al Jazeera‘s international relations manager, told a news conference in Doha. [Ahram Online, 2/27/2014]

Egypt’s striking doctors threaten escalation as 85 percent of public hospitals participate
Striking doctors, pharmacists and dentists syndicates threatened Wednesday the upcoming government with escalation if their demands were not met by March 8. The Pharmacists and Dentists Syndicates joined the Doctors Syndicate in a one-day partial strike in public hospitals across the country on Wednesday with the general aim of improving Egypt’s healthcare system. These syndicates claim that Wednesday’s strike was the strongest and most unified protest action that they have launched together. Striking doctors are demanding an increase in basic salaries rather than a bonus system on top of existing salaries, as ordered by a presidential decree in February and the implementation of financial and administrative changes concerning a more suitable system of pay scales and promotions. Doctors Syndicate member Dr. Amr al-Shoury said 85 percent of doctors have participated in the strike nationwide. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 2/26/2014]

Also of Interest:
Striking workers not included in the minimum income system: Ministry of Finance | DNE
‘Freedom for the brave’ calls for investigation into violations in Wadi al-Natrun Prison | Mada Masr
Funeral held in Egypt’s main Coptic church for seven Egyptians killed in Libya | Ahram Online
NCHR forms fact-finding committee to investigate the murder of seven Copts in Libya | Egypt Independent
St Catherine hikers froze to death before call for help was made – forensic report | Aswat Masriya
Ezbet al-Nakhl residents: Evicted and nowhere to go | Mada Masr
People’s Alliance accuses Brotherhood of killing the seven Egyptians in Libya | AMAY (Arabic)
Egypt pressed to curb violence against journalists: IPI | DNE


Suspect arrested on charges of storming police department and kidnapping soldiers in North Sinai
A North Sinai mission, backed by troops from the Central Security Forces and police forces, resulted in the arrest of a suspect wanted for allegedly storming a police station, kidnapping soldiers and possession of firearms, according to a security source. [Shorouk (Arabic), 2/27/2014]

Also of Interest:
Security source: Palestinians arrested in North Sinai for being in the country illegally |  Shorouk (Arabic)
One militant killed and eleven others arrested in North Sinai raid | Ahram Gateway (Arabic)


Germany advises against travel to all of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula
Germany’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it strongly advised against travel to all regions of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Previously the ministry had issued a warning against travel in the north of the Sinai peninsula and the Egyptian-Israeli border area as well as the resort of Taba. The ministry said it advised travelers on the ground to contact their travel agent to organize an earlier departure from Sinai. Until then they are encouraged to keep movement to a minimum and follow instructions from travel agents and the Egyptian security forces, it said. Germany is a top source of tourists for Egypt, and its Red Sea coast is a popular destination for German tourists seeking sunshine during Europe’s winter months. [Reuters, AP, 2/26/2014]

Also of Interest:
Human Rights Watch calls for investigation into Taba bombing | DNE
Minister of trade and investment: Government is keen to create economic relationships with Russia | EGYNews (Arabic)
Elections don’t always lead to democracy, says Kerry | AFP/DNE