Top News:  Egypt to Hold Parliamentary Vote in February/March: Foreign Minister

Egypt said on Friday it would hold parliamentary elections in February or March, with presidential polls in early summer, and that the political arm of ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s banned Muslim Brotherhood could participate. Fahmy told Reuters in an interview that the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party “is still legal in Egypt” and free to participate in the parliamentary election. Speaking during a visit to Spain, he said presidential elections would be announced “by the end of next spring” and that the elections would be held a maximum of two months after the announcement. “So you’re looking at elections in the summer for president, that’s the last step,” he said. He had said in September that the transitional phase of government should end “by next spring,” though he did not give specific dates at that time. The elections will come after a referendum on a new constitution, which Fahmy said would be held in December. [ReutersSISEGYNews (Arabic), 11/8/2013]


Government considering canceling Terrorist Act, amending Penal Code; Rights groups say law will restore police state
Senior official sources have said that the government is considering scrapping the new Terrorist Act and instead amending the terrorism section of the Penal Code. The sources, who preferred not to be named, said the cabinet asked the Justice Ministry to propose the necessary amendments. They added that the Justice Ministry prefers this procedure, and that it should complete the task by Monday at the latest. Meanwhile, twenty Egyptian human rights organizations published a joint statement on Thursday arguing that a draft counter-terrorism bill currently under consideration would reinstate the “police state” in Egypt if implemented.  [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 11/7/2013]

Also of Interest:
Nour Party condemns reported torture | DNE
Cabinet: Government unworried about lifting state of emergency | SIS
Abu Seda: Final draft of NGO law will not be issued without dialogue | Cairo Post


Egypt parliament upper house eliminated in draft constitution; Christians threaten to quit assembly
The Shura Council, Egypt’s parliamentary upper house, has been eliminated in the country’s draft constitution, which will establish a unicameral legislative system if passed via nationwide referendum. In a closed session that reportedly lasted for nearly five hours, twenty-three assembly members voted for the cancellation of the upper house of parliament while nineteen members voted for keeping it. Two members, including the Armed Forces representative Magd al-Din Barakat, abstained from voting while six members were absent from the session. Assembly chairman, Amr Moussa, voted for keeping the Shura Council, while Lawyers’ Syndicate head Sameh Ashour and Cairo University chairman Gaber Nassar voted against it. The decision was criticized by Nour Party leader Tarek Sheri, while it found support from members of the Egyptian Socialist, Strong Egypt, and Wafd parties. Meanwhile, Christian representatives on the committee threatened to walk out Thursday after disputes with the Nour Party representative over portions dealing with Islamic law. [Ahram Online, DNE, SIS, AP, 11/8/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt court adjourns case against former Army chief Tantawi | Ahram Online


Egypt signs five new petroleum agreements with $115.5 million investments
Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources Sherif Ismail signed five new agreements with two Canadian and Greek oil giants in the petroleum and natural gas exploration domain at 115.5-million-dollar investments. The agreements were signed with Canada’s TransGlobe Energy (TGA) and Greece’s Vegas Oil and Gas to explore oil and gas in Sinai and western and eastern deserts. The five deals are part of twenty-one petroleum agreements that the ministry started to sign them with world companies, the minister said. [Cairo Post, 11/8/2013]

Also of Interest:
Yields on Egyptian T-Bills inch up at auction | DNE
Market capital up EGP 3 billion | Egypt Independent
Tougher punishments introduced for butane gas storehouses: governors | Egypt Independent
Minister of Industry pushes to increase export subsidies | Cairo Post


Islamists hold scattered protests across Egypt under banner of ‘defense of women’
Supporters of Egypt’s ousted president Mohamed Morsi are holding scattered protests across the country calling for the release of twenty-one detained female protesters, including seven girls, arrested in October during clashes in Alexandria. Thousands of Morsi’s supporters took part in Friday’s demonstrations. In Cairo, protesters marched from mosques in Helwan, Maadi, Nasr City areas, the Middle East News Agency reported, as well as gathering at the presidential palaces. Scores gathered at the Istiqama Mosque in Giza. The Armed Forces sealed off Tahrir, Raba’a, Mostafa Mahmoud and Nahda squares earlier this morning in anticipation of the planned protests. Police forces arrested eight Morsi supporters in New Damietta on charges of rioting and inciting violence, while security forces fired teargas to disperse protesters in Alexandria and Minya. Clashes also broke out in Zagazig between supporters and opponents of the ousted president, while Security forces prevented a march in Cairo from reaching Raba’a al-Adaweya square. [Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), AP, Aswat Masriya, 11/8/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s interior minister allows fans to attend Cup final | Ahram Online


US congress delegation against cutting Egypt aid: Report
A US congressional delegation visiting Egypt stated that it was not in favor of Washington’s decision to suspend military aid to Egypt, Reuters Aswat Masriya reported on Thursday. During a meeting with constitutional committee head and former presidential candidate Amr Moussa, the delegation said that the relationship between the United States and Egypt is built on mutual cooperation and that the group is pushing for a different strategy vis-à-vis Egypt, sources told Aswat Masriya. The delegation, led by Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chief Anne Marie Chotvacs, has been meeting with Egyptian officials since its arrival on Tuesday. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 11/7/2013]

Russia sending foreign, defense chiefs to Egypt
Russia’s foreign and defense ministers will travel to Cairo next week for joint talks with their Egyptian counterparts about weapons sales and political relations, a Russian official said on Friday. Moscow’s foreign ministry spokesman said the “2+2” talks will be held on Wednesday and Thursday. Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters the discussion will touch on “military and technical cooperation” — a Russian euphemism for arms sales — as well as political and economic ties. An official at Russia’s Rosoboronexport state weapons exporter said Moscow was ready to foster its “traditional (military) ties” with Cairo. “We are ready to conduct negotiations with the Egyptians about the possibility of both supplying new military equipment, and repairing equipment supplied in Soviet times,” an unnamed Rosoboronexport told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency. [AFP, AP, Aswat Masriya, SIS, Egypt Independent, 11/8/2013]

Image: Photo: UN