Top News: Egyptians to vote on constitution January 14-15; Six international organizations approved to monitor

Interim President Adly Mansour announced a national referendum on the new draft of the constitution, will take place on January 14-15. The High Election Commission (HEC) said that out of “nine international organizations that requested permission to monitor elections, only six who fulfilled the conditions were accepted.” 


Presidency plans parliamentary electoral system with political parties
Egypt’s presidency is currently holding hearing sessions with legal experts and politicians to decide whether parliamentary or presidential elections will take place first, presidential Constitutional Adviser Ali Awad told Aswat Masriya on Monday. Interim President Adly Mansour will decide on that promptly after the referendum on the country’s constitution, which is scheduled for mid-January if the people vote for it. The draft constitution grants the president the right to determine the timing of elections and the nature of the electoral system in the absence of a legislative council. Meanwhile, Awad held a meeting on Thursday with representatives of political groups including the Wafd Party, Tamarod movement and National Salvation Front to agree on the new electoral system, according to which upcoming parliamentary elections will be held, ahead of issuing a law by Interim President Adly Mansour, sources said. Sources referred to a partial agreement on the mixed electoral system which allocates 80 percent of the seats to single-winners and 20 percent to the list-based system. The 444 seats will be divided among constituencies like before with two seats at each electoral district for the single-winner. Another 111 seats will be added to the parliament making the total 555 seats. [Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 12/16/2013]

Egypt pushes ‘Constitution for All’ – but mostly Westerners
Egypt’s outgoing constitution-amending committee has repeatedly stressed that it has drafted a national charter that represents all Egyptians. The huge banner reading “All Egyptians Constitution” hanging in the background during Sunday’s international press conference, however, barely reflected their assertion. Three out of the five people whose images were used on the banner appear to be foreigners. There was the lack of any woman wearing a veil, for example, even though the vast majority of Egyptian women wear the hijab, or headscarf. Of the four men featured, none had either a beard or a moustache – the favored facial hair respectively of Islamists and many supporters of the old military regime. [Telegraph, Ahram Online, 12/15/2013]

Also of Interest:
Political factors caused increasing violence against women: Interior Minister | Ahram Online
Egypt deputy PM pushes for reconciliation with Brotherhood | Aswat Masriya
Borhamy: Muslim Brotherhood threatened Islamic project | Egypt Independent
Pro-Sabbahi campaign calls on NSF to back revolutionary presidential hopeful | Egypt Independent
The government’s performance and Egyptians’ living standards: Poll | DNE


Arrest warrant issued for father of ‘Raba’a ruler’ student
Prosecutors on Saturday ordered the detention of a man whose 15-year-old son, Khaled Mohamed, was arrested two weeks ago for possessing a ruler bearing a symbol associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The man is being investigated on charges of “inducing” his son to possess the ruler. Arrest warrants have also been issued against two teachers – Ashraf Raslan and Hamido al-Kheish – for the same reason. Khaled remains in detention on suspicion of inciting violence, slandering the Egyptian army and membership of a banned group, legal sources said. On Sunday, the prosecution extended his detention for 15 days pending investigations. [Ahram Online, Reuters, 12/15/2013]

Three Christians, nine Muslims sentenced in Khusus sectarian violence
An Egyptian criminal court convicted three Christians Saturday of killing a Muslim man, a judicial official and the state news agency said, in a dispute that that left nine people dead in some of this year’s worst sectarian violence. Six Christians died in the clashes, which took place in a small town just outside Cairo in April, but no one was arrested or convicted for their killings, lawyers said. In its ruling, the criminal court of Qalubiya province sentenced one Christian man, Hani Farouk Awad, to life imprisonment and fined him EGP 15,000, and two others to 15 years for the killing of a Muslim resident of Khusus, where the violence took place. Nine Muslims were sentenced to up to five years for vandalizing Christian properties while 32 were acquitted, the official said. [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, AFP/Egypt Independent, 12/14/2013]

Egyptians to vote on constitution January 14-15; Six international organizations approved to monitor
Interim President Adly Mansour announced a national referendum on the new draft of the constitution, will take place on January 14-15. Following his announcement, members of the cabinet publicly endorsed the document. The referendum will be held in one stage, in all the governorates at the same time. In a speech at a ceremony on Saturday afternoon, the president called on those who opposed the current political settlement to “give up on their stubbornness,” to stop “following a mirage,” and to join the nation. Mansour thanked those tasked with amending the suspended constitution. “[The constitution] does not reach perfection,” said Mansour. “However, it is [still] an achievement of national and historic importance.” Meanwhile, the head of the constitutional drafting committee, Amr Moussa, predicted at a press conference on Sunday that the draft would be approved by 75 percent of voters in the upcoming referendum, scheduled for mid-January. He also said, “Participation is a prelude to unconditional reconciliation from the Muslim Brotherhood or the government.”  The High Election Commission (HEC), presided by Cairo Appeal Court President Nabil Salib, said that out of “nine international organizations that requested permission to monitor elections, only six who fulfilled the conditions were accepted.” Joining those urging for a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum, is a new group called the ‘Egypt is My Country Front,’ headed by former Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal al-Din. Safwat Abdel Ghany head of the political bureau of Construction and Development Party, the political arm of the Jama’a al-Islamiya, however, said Mansour’s call to hold a referendum on the constitution mid-January was the being beginning of “a rigging process.” [Reuters, Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 12/16/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian court overturns steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz’s 37-year sentence | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya
Four members of April 6 Democratic Front arrested in Cairo | Ahram Online
Cairo court acquits policeman of killing protesters during uprising | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent
Nile City Towers clashes verdict postponed | DNE
Draft constitution opens the door for military domination: ANHRI | DNE
Court adjourns Mubarak, former officials retrial on protester killings to January | Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr
Morsi supporters referred to prosecution in Minya | Egypt Independent
Six to face military trial for illegal gold exploration | Mada Masr
EIPR says new constitution is below expectation | Mada Masr


Egypt attracted $9.2 billion in foreign investment in three years
Minister of Investment Osama Saleh announced that in spite of the harsh circumstances witnessed by the country in the last three years, Egypt managed to attract about $9.2 billion foreign investments of which EGP 2.2 billion foreign investments in 2011, $4 billion foreign investments in 2012 and about $ 3 billion foreign investments in 2013. The Minister added that after the decline in the rates of founding companies in 2011, the rates back on track especially after the June 30th revolution. [SIS, 12/14/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian trade deficit falls 22.3 percent in August year-on-year: CAPMAS  | Ahram OnlineEgypt Independent
Twenty-seven countries ease or lift travel warnings on Egypt since September | Ahram Online
Egypt’s interim government, businessmen revive Upper Egypt development plans | Ahram Online
Egypt to repay part of debt to oil companies in Egyptian pounds | Ahram Online, DNE
Foreign Trade Minister issues decision to establish ‘Handicrafts Export Council’ | DNE
Presidential decree allows for reconciliation in tax disputes | DNE, SIS
Minister urges Kuwaiti, Gulf investors to operate in Egypt | SIS
CBE raises foreign currency transfer rate to US$200,000 | Egypt Independent


Independent coalition ends Brotherhood’s control of Egypt’s Doctors Syndicate
A broad coalition of non-Muslim Brotherhood candidates has won eleven of the twelve seats available on the Doctors Syndicate’s main board, ending the longstanding dominance of the Islamist group over the body. The Independence list includes members of activist groups Doctors Without Rights and Tahrir Doctors, as well as independent candidates. It first made an appearance as an electoral coalition in 2011. The final results, announced by syndicate head Khairy Abdel-Dayem on Sunday, confirmed initial reports issued a few days ago which had suggested that the Brotherhood candidates standing in the elections had lost majority control for the first time in over two decades. After the recent elections, the board of 25 seats is now comprised of 15 members from the Independent Movement and nine from the Muslim Brotherhood, with one seat reserved for counsel president Dr. Khairy Abdel Dayem.  This marks the first time in 28 years that the Islamists have not held a majority on the Doctor’s Syndicate’s board. Previous to the Friday election, the board was dominated by 20 Muslim Brotherhood members, while only four were from the Independent Movement. The Muslim Brotherhood has historically held sway over the boards of professional syndicates; in particular, the Engineers and Lawyers Syndicates. Since the 1980s, the group has also dominated associations of the medical profession, including doctors, dentists, veterinarians and, to a lesser extent, pharmacists. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, 12/15/2013]

Egypt sees 511 student protests in November, as renewed clashes break out Monday
A Saturday report by Democracy Meter said that 511 student protests took place in universities, higher institutes and schools during November, with an average of seventeen daily protests. A total of 457 protests were held in universities. The nationwide branches of Al-Azhar University topped the charts for number of protests, with 101, while Cairo University ranked second with 52 and Alexandria University saw 46. The report claimed that 296 students and twelve teachers were arrested in November while 423 students were dismissed from their universities. Meanwhile, Egyptian police fired teargas to disperse protests staged by students supporting the Muslim Brotherhood near Ain Shams University in Cairo on Monday. The students were heading to the Defense Ministry to commemorate 2011’s cabinet violent clashes. The students raised the Rabaa sign and chanted against the police and army. Meanwhile, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) issued statement on Monday calling for a million-man rally on Tuesday across Egypt. [DNE, AP, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 12/16/2013]

Security tightened in Cairo as activists call for protests commemorating cabinet clashes
Security was beefed up on Monday around the cabinet, parliament, Shura Council and Interior Ministry ahead of commemorating the anniversary of the clashes in front of the cabinet. Several central security troops and police armored vehicles have been deployed, in addition to three fire engines near the ministry. Activist groups and families of victims held a press conference on Saturday condemning “the assault of military forces against peaceful protesters” in front of the cabinet building in December 2011, and called for protests on Monday December 16 and Wednesday December 19 in commemoration of the events, which left three people dead and 255 wounded. A late Sunday statement from the “Families of the martyrs of Cabinet Clashes” read that they did not ask for an approval from the Ministry of Interior for their Monday protest commemorating the second anniversary of the clashes. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 12/16/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s Nilesat shut down ten ‘sectarian’ Islamist channels in 2013 | Ahram Online
Way of the Revolution Front protests to free arrested students in Cairo | Ahram Online
Revolutionary Front’s student arm denies collaboration with Morsi supporters | DNE
Two killed in Friday clashes | DNE
Workers at Egyptian Iron and Steel Company end sit-in | Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent
Survey finds support for talks between government and Muslim Brothers | Mada Masr
Security disperse sit-in by gold mine temporary laborers | Egypt Independent


Armed forces kill two Sinai militant suspects
Egyptian troops killed a key Islamist militant Sunday, wanted over attacks on the army and police in Sinai, the military said. Nesar Sabah Robaa Saleh, also known as Abu Rabiaa, was killed in the North Sinai city of al-Arish, army spokesman Ahmed Ali said in a statement Sunday. The army referred to Abu Rabiaa as “one of the most dangerous” militants in North Sinai who had been sought for his role in several attacks on security forces and military installations in the region. Troops arrested 40 other militant suspects, damaged 22 huts used as bases for attacks, and seized papers used in terrorist operations, Ali added. Egyptian soldiers also killed a man described as a “terrorist” in northern Sinai Saturday. Ahmed Ali described the dead man, Ahmed Ahmeid Sereeg, as “a highly wanted terrorist” who was also known as Abou Tartar. The spokesperson, in a statement posted on his official Facebook page, said that Sereeg was shot dead after he threw a grenade at soldiers stationed south of Sheikh Zuweid. The attack occurred, Ali said, during an operation by Armed Forces who were combing the area for wanted individuals. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 12/16/2013]


US congress delegation meets with Mansour and Sisi
A three-member delegation of members of the United States House of Representatives met with high-level Egyptian government officials on Sunday. Republicans Steve King, Louis Gohmert and Michele Bachmann arrived to Cairo on Saturday as part of a trip to Egypt that is scheduled to end on Monday. The group met with interim President Adly Mansour and Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday. The meeting with Sisi involved discussions concerning regional issues, bilateral relations between Egypt and the United States and recent developments in Egypt’s ongoing transition following former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster. Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, 12/15/2013]

Also of Interest:
China grants Egypt US$24.7 million for implementation of projects | DNEEgypt Independent

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to form expert committee on Ethiopian Dam | DNE
Egyptian-Swiss talks to be held in Cairo over Mubarak’s smuggled funds | Egypt Independent