Top News: Eight parties form cross-ideological coalition for coming parliamentary elections

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Eight opposition political parties and prominent figures have formed an alliance to contest the upcoming House of Representatives elections.


Eight parties form cross-ideological coalition for coming parliamentary elections
Eight opposition political parties and prominent figures have formed an alliance to contest the upcoming House of Representatives elections. In a press conference following a closed-door meeting of alliance members at the Wasat Party headquarters on Tuesday, Wasat head Abul Ela Mady said the coalition aims to eliminate Egypt’s current state of division and polarization. Additional liberal and leftist parties may still join the coalition, he noted. The alliance is composed of the Wasat, Hadara, Ghad al-Thawra, Fadila, Asala, Strong Egypt, Reformation and Renaissance, and Egyptian Current (Al-Tayyar al-Masry) parties. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE, 1/16/2013]

Transport minister takes responsibility for train wreck, won’t resign
Transportation Minister Hatem Abdel Latif on Tuesday said he is “politically responsible” for the train wreck in the Badrashin district of Giza Monday that claimed the lives of 17 central security recruits and injured 117 others. Abdel Latif stressed that he would not resign, as he was only appointed 10 days ago. "This is an old inheritance. But as an official I’m also politically responsible,” the minister said in an interview on privately owned Mehwar Channel. “The decaying situation that we have reached is a result of old accumulations.” He added that he holds the former Mubarak regime responsible for the incident. [Egypt Independent,1/16/2013]

Controversy in the Shura Council surrounding women on the party lists
The evening session of the Shura Council witnessed disagreements between representatives and the government over the modification of article 3 in the elections law to place at least one woman on the upper half of party lists more than 4 individuals long. Some representatives consider it a form of discrimination which exposes the law to legal challenges under the new constitution. Assistant to the minister of justice, Omar al-Sharif, said that affirmative action is not prohibited and women have a right to representation given that they make up half of Egyptian society. [Ahram Gateway (Arabic), 1/16/2013]

FJP spokesperson referred to investigation
Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) spokesperson Ahmed Sobei was sent to investigation at the Press Syndicate Tuesday. Sobei is accused of inciting violence against anti-Morsi protesters during the Presidential Palace clashes, which took place on 5 December. Denying the allegations, Sobei accused syndicate board members of settling personal scores with him by referring him to investigation, reported IkhwanWeb.[DNE, 1/15/2013]

Also of Interest:
Shura Council discusses a draft law on freedom of information | Shorouk (Arabic)
Minister of Transport: Developing Egypt’s railway sector requires 15bn EGP | EGYNews (Arabic)


State security destroyed documents trial adjourned to 12 February
The Cairo Criminal Court adjourned until 12 February the trial of 41 current and former police leaders, including Major General Hassan Abdel Rahman, former head of the now disbanded State Security Investigation Services. The defendants in the case stand accused of burning and destroying SSIS documents in the wake of the 25 January revolution. The trial was adjourned because some witnesses did not testify before the court on Tuesday, including Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, former Interior Minister Mansour al-Essawy and former Interior Minister Mahmoud Wagdy. [Egypt Independent,1/15/2013]


Egypt economy to grow 2.6 pct in 2012/13: World Bank
The World Bank has predicted Egypt’s economy will grow by 2.6 per cent in the fiscal year 2012/13, a significantly lower figure than estimated by the Egyptian government. The Egyptian economy grew by 2.2 per cent in the preceding 2011/12 fiscal year.  In its latest Global Economic Prospects report published on Wednesday, the bank said political uncertainty and unrest in several countries in the region, including Egypt, was weighing on economic activity. The report added that cash flows from non-oil economic activities would rebound once political tensions subsided, but also cautioned that the strong gains in Egypt’s tourism sector had not yet brought its income up to 2010 levels. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 1/16/2013]

Egypt approves law to issue sovereign Islamic bonds
The Egyptian government has approved a draft law allowing the issuance of sovereign Islamic bonds, Finance Minister Al-Mursi al-Sayed Hegazy said on Wednesday. The Islamist-led Egyptian administration had amended the original draft of the law following criticism from religious scholars.The legislation still needs to be approved by parliament. [Ahram Online/Reuters, 1/16/2013]

Also of Interest
Egypt received $1.7 bln revenues in 2012 from Ain Sokhna port | Ahram Online
Morsi pursues reconciliation with businessmen | DNE


19 dead in Alexandria building collapse; 2 dead in Daqahilya building collapse
At least 19 people have been found dead and ten others injured after a building collapsed in al-Maamoura, a district located in the eastern part of Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city.
Following public outcry, Alexandria police arrested two owners of the building that collapsed on Wednesday before referring them to prosecution for further investigation. Additionally, at least two people have died and eight others injured after a building collapsed on Tuesday, in the village of al-Darafil, in Belqas, Daqahliya governorate.[Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), 1/16/2013]

Egypt now rated as ‘partly free’
Independent watchdog Freedom House has said that Egypt’s country status shifted from “not free” to “partly free” during 2012. Freedom House published its yearly global report based on data from its annual survey of political rights and civil liberties. From its findings the watchdog has changed Egypt’s status “due to a flawed but competitive presidential election that led to the removal from power of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.” [DNE, 1/16/2013]

Also of Interest:

Angry protesters confront man who looks like Morsi | Egypt Independent
Witnesses, survivors recount Egypt’s deadly Badrashin train crash | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent


Interior Minister, British Official discuss security cooperation
Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim met on Tuesday 15/1/2013 with British Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne to discuss how to foster security cooperation between the two ministries. During the meeting, Browne said he appreciated the pivotal role of the Interior Ministry in combating crime despite current challenges. He said his country is ready for boosting security relations with Egypt in the fields of information swap, money laundering crimes and smuggling. [SIS, 1/16/2013]


Qatari PM says won’t let Egypt go bankrupt
Qatar’s prime minister has said his country does not want to see Egypt go bankrupt, Reuters reported on Tuesday. "Qatar will stand by Egypt and the Egyptian people’s needs," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said. "We don’t want to see the biggest country in the Arab world bankrupt. I don’t think this is wise. I think it is in the interest of the World Bank and the international community not to see Egypt brought down," he added. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 1/16/2013]

US condemns comments from Egypt’s Morsi
The Obama administration on Tuesday gave a blistering review of remarks that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi made almost three years ago about Jews and called for him to repudiate what it called unacceptable rhetoric. In blunt comments, the White House and State Department said Morsi’s statements were "deeply offensive" and ran counter to the goal of peace in the region. The State Department, noting that a senior congressional delegation is now visiting Egypt, said the remarks complicated efforts to provide economic and military aid to Egypt. [AP, Ahram Online/Reuters, DNE, 1/16/2013]

Egypt in talks with Israel over Palestinian hunger strikers: Source
Egypt is in talks with Israel over Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, a Palestinian source has told the German Press Agency (DPA). On Wednesday, the agency reported that such efforts were at the request of the Palestinian Authority, which had called on Cairo to intervene diplomatically to secure the release of the prisoners. [Ahram Online, SIS, 1/16/2013]

Also of Interest:
UK Middle East minister Burt to hold Twitter Q&A in Cairo | Ahram Online
Clashes erupt at Saudi Embassy after kingdom convicts Egyptian lawyer; Consulate: Sentence against Gizawi to be appealed  | Egypt Independent, DNE, SIS

Photo: Civilians and emergency services sift through the rubble of a collapsed building in Alexandria (AFP)

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