Top News: Egypt’s Draft Constitution Unveiled Amid Political Divisions

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The Constituent Assembly released an early incomplete draft of Egypt’s constitution for public discussion on Wednesday as it rebutted growing criticism by secularists, liberals and Salafists. The draft is incomplete, and does not include chapters on judicial authority or the military. 


Morsi’s pardon must include all ‘political’ prisoners: Rights activists
President Mohamed Morsi’s move to pardon some of Egypt’s political prisoners on Monday, initially seen by some rights activists as a positive step in line with key revolutionary demands, became subject to scrutiny, as some commentators struggled to interpret how it will be applied. The presidential decree states in its first article, the pardon is "for all felony convictions and misdemeanor convictions or attempted-crimes committed to support the revolution and the fulfillment of its goals." Amnesty International (AI) issued a statement on Wednesday saying President Mohamed Morsi’s general amnesty decree is insufficient. The rights group stated all Egyptians tried in front of military courts need retrials, including those whose offenses did not relate to the revolution.[Ahram Online, Daily News Egypt, 10/10/2012]

Egypt’s public finance watchdog to have greater powers: Justice Minister
Auditors at Egypt’s Central Auditing Organisation (CAO) are to have the right to refer infringements directly to the prosecutor, without getting clearance from senior officials, the minister of justice said on Wednesday. A report from state-run news agency MENA said that minister Ahmed Mekki had given CAO employees who audit public finance documents the right of "apprehensive jurisdiction."  [Ahram Online, 10/11/2012]

Egypt proposes mortgage law changes to boost home ownership
Egypt’s financial regulator has proposed changes to the mortgage law to allow remortgaging and higher borrowing levels for people on low incomes, in a drive to boost home ownership in the country of 83 million. However, Ashraf el-Sharkawy, chairman of the Egyptian Financial Services Authority (EFSA), announcing the proposals on Wednesday, said that no changes could go ahead until they were approved by a yet-to-be-elected parliament to replace the one dissolved this year, but that a final draft would be ready by next month. Mortgage lending is equivalent to less than half a per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in Egypt. [Ahram Online, Al Masry al Youm (Arabic) 10/11/2012]


Egypt’s draft constitution unveiled amid political divisions
The Constituent Assembly released an early incomplete draft of Egypt’s constitution for public discussion on Wednesday as it rebutted growing criticism by secularists, liberals and Salafists. The draft is incomplete, and does not include chapters on judicial authority or the military. Various protests, for different causes caused Wednesday’s session of the Constituent Assembly to be postponed until next Tuesday. 30 political parties and movements have announced that they will be taking to the streets on Friday in a mass protest against the draft constitution. [Ahram Online, Daily News Egypt, Ahram Gateway (Arabic), 10/11/2012]

Anger brews after acquittal of ‘Battle of Camel’ defendants; Morsi adviser hints at new trial
The 25 defendants acquitted of orchestrating the 2 February 2011 "Battle of Camel" attack on Tahrir Square, could be retried, Egypt presidential advisor Seif Abdel-Fattah said on Wednesday. Senior Hosni Mubarak-era officials were among those exonerated, including former minister of information and chairman of the Shura Council Safwat El-Sherif, MP of Mubarak’s now-defunct National Democratic Party Mohamed Abul-Einen and former parliament speaker Fathi Sorour. The Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm the Freedom and Justice Party are organizing a million m an march on Thursday to protest the acquittals in the "Battle of the Camel" trial. The verdict is also expected to spice up Friday’s planned demonstrations in the iconic Tahrir square, which lists key grievances including that those responsible for killing demonstrators during last year’s 18-day uprising are brought to justice. The verdict has also been followed by calls for the dismissal of the Attorney General.[Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Daily News Egypt, Aswat Masriya, EGYNews,(Arabic), 10/10/2012]

Court postpones trial of Brotherhood lawyers
South Cairo Criminal Court on Thursday postponed the trial of two Muslim Brotherhood lawyers charged with insulting the Supreme Constitutional Court. Former MP Nasser Salem al-Hafy and Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud are on trial for accusing the court of improper proceedings in the case that dissolved the People’s Assembly in June. [Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic) 10/11/2012]


IMF chief says Egypt loan deal possible by mid-Nov
The International Monetary Fund’s chief says talks on a controversial $4.8 loan to Egypt could be completed by mid-November. Speaking on Thursday on the sidelines of the semi-annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank in Tokyo, Christian Lagarde said, "As you know, one of your [Egypt] authorities indicated he was hoping for closure in the middle of next month. Fingers crossed … I am very confident we can discuss productively, reach agreement, and help Egypt as much as we can." [Ahram Online, 10/11/2012]

Central Bank happy with value of pound: official
Egypt’s central bank is comfortable with the current value of the Egyptian pound and is not targeting any particular rate for the currency, a sub-governor at the bank said on Wednesday. The pound has fallen 4.5 percent since the start of the uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak last year and plunged the economy into turmoil. Economists say the drop would have been far deeper if the Central Bank had not defended the pound’s value. [Egypt Independent/Reuters, 10/10/2012]


Brotherhood accuses reporters of harassment
The Muslim Brotherhood has accused reporters of harassment in a report filed with the Interior Ministry, a security source said Wednesday. The security officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Brotherhood complained about reporters in front of its Moqattam headquarters during a meeting Wednesday and accused them of interfering in the group’s affairs and failing to obtain the proper press permits. [Egypt Independent, 10/11/2012]

Poet denies alleged blasphemy summons
Poet Hesham al-Gokh denies media reports that prosecutors summoned him over accusations he insulted Islam in one of his works. "I sent my lawyer to the Public Prosecution to inquire [about] what was going on; it turned out to be a rumor," Gokh said. He said he does not know the alleged source behind the complaint, Salwa al-Faresy, and denied that he has written poems denigrating religion. [Egypt Independent, 10/10/2012]


Egyptians shot at Jordan-Syria border
The Egyptian Embassy in Amman is negotiating the release of six Egyptians arrested while crossing the border into Syria. Border guards reportedly shot at the six people, injuring at least two who were then sent to a hospital in Amman. Egyptian Consul to Amman Sherif Mokhtar visited the two men, who are in stable condition in the hospital after sustaining leg and neck injuries. [Egypt Independent, 10/11/2012]

Eritrea releases Egyptian ship captain after seven months
Eritrean authorities released Wednesday an Egyptian ship captain who was arrested seven months ago after sailing into Eritrea’s territorial waters. According to state-run newspaper Al-Ahram, the captain, Mohamed al-Helaisy, steered the boat into Eritrean waters to mend the vessel after it broke down. Al-Masry Al-Youm quoted the Egyptian Ambassador to Eritrea Mahmoud Nayel as saying that authorities agreed to free Helaisy in response to Egyptian Foreign Ministry requests. [Egypt Independent, 10/11/2012]

Photo Credit: Daily News Egypt

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