Top News: Expat Voter Turnout Low in Egypt Referendum

Approximately 103,000 expatriates, approximately 15 percent of registered expats, voted in the constitution referendum – significantly fewer than in 2012, the electoral committee told reporters on Monday. The largest turnouts were in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. Although the final count has yet to be established, the results have been overwhelmingly in favor of the constitution (97.4 percent of the vote). 


Egypt’s General Sisi signals may run for president
Egypt’s army chief General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi gave his clearest signal yet on Saturday of his interest in becoming president, a move that could turn the clock back to the days when the presidency was controlled by men from the military. He has said that he would consider running for the presidency if it were “at the request of the people.” Hamdeen Sabbahi and other former presidential candidates have also signaled that they may run for presidency, depending on other candidates and their agendas. Candidates’ indecision has stalled the presidential bid. UAE premier Mohamed bin Rashid al-Maktoum expressed his hope that Sisi stay in the army but later clarified that if he stood as a civilian that would be a personal matter.  [Reuters, Ahram Online, 1/13/2014]

Also of Interest:
FJP members in Sharqiya resign in protest against ‘Brotherhood terrorism’ | Egypt Independent Moussa hails progress of stability and security in Egypt | SIS


Expats turned out to vote in low numbers, Mansour urges Egyptians to vote
Approximately 103,000 expatriates, approximately 15 percent of registered expats, voted in the constitution referendum – significantly fewer than in 2012, the electoral committee told reporters on Monday. The largest turnouts were in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. Although the final count has yet to be established, the results have been overwhelmingly in favor of the constitution (97.4 percent of the vote). Abdelatty said that the low voter turnout was due to the inability of expatriates to vote by mail, the Muslim Brotherhood’s boycott of the referendum, and voter ID laws that prevented some from casting ballots. Ahead of the referendum vote in Egypt, Mansour, in a televised speech on the day of commemoration of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, praised the draft constitution scheduled to be put to a national referendum on January 14 and 15, stating that Islamic Sharia law is the basis of the draft constitution’s legislation. The referendum is the most challenging and pivotal part of Egypt’s democratic roadmap after the ouster of the country’s first democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi, as it legitimizes the government to move forward with parliamentary and presidential elections. [Ahram Online, DNE, 1/13/2014]

Mubarak retrial adjourned to February 8
After being delayed for several hours due to bad weather, the retrial of former president Hosni Mubarak was adjourned Sunday until February 8,9 and 10. Mubarak, along with his former interior minister, Habib al-Adly, and six top security aides are being retried on charges of responsibility in the killing of peaceful demonstrators in the 2011 uprising that toppled him. The next sessions of the trial will include testimony by the head of the military police, Hamdy Badeen, and chief executive of the national telecommunications regulatory authority, Omar Badawi.  In the Sunday session of the retrial, veteran journalist Ibrahim Eissa, a staunch opponent of Mubarak, testified on the events of January 25 2011. Eissa testified that he could not confirm the nature of the injuries and killings during the revolution as he was surrounded by large crowds in middle of the protests, reported Al-Ahram. Brigadier General Ayman Fahim Ahmad, from the Republican Guard, and  to Major General Mohamed Farid al-Tohamy, head of the General Intelligence Service, were also scheduled to testify at the trial. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 1/13/2014]

Also of interest:
Court turns down Strong Egypt lawsuit challenging amendments to political participation law  | DNE
Prosecutor renews detention of 237 suspects over Kerdasa violence | Egypt Independent
Detention of eleven members of April 6 extended fifteen days | Egypt Independent


Egypt to introduce a 10-12 percent VAT
Egypt’s government will finalize a bill on a value added tax (VAT) by end of January, according to Mamdouh Omar, head of the Income Tax Authority. The VAT will be fixed at a unified rate between 10 to 12 percent and will be imposed on all goods and services with a few exceptions such as subsidized food stuffs like oil and wheat. Egypt’s government has announced on several occasions since 2007 that it is going to implement the VAT in order to increase fiscal revenues, but the decision has been repeatedly postponed. [Ahram Online, 1/13/2014]

Also of interest:
Number of new companies established rises in 2013: Minister of Investment | DNE
Saudi businessmen propose bill to amend Egyptian Investment Law | DNE
Government to assist struggling textile companies | DNE
Government sells $1.07 billion in one-year dollar-denominated T-bills | DNE
Minimum income applied for government employees this January | DNE
Egypt’s non-petroleum exports surge 11 percent in 2013 | DNE
Egyptian economy stabilizing: Ministry of International Cooperation | DNE
Fugitive Mubarak-era business man says he will return to Egypt | Egypt Independent
UAE assistance, budget savings to finance second stimulus package | DNE
Egypt commits 630 million for developing industrial projects in Upper Egypt | Aswat Masriya


Four dead at pro-Morsi Friday protests in Egypt, 169 arrested
Four people were killed at pro-Mohamed Morsi protests across Egypt on Friday. One person was killed, and at least thirty arrested, in downtown Alexandria during clashes between Morsi supporters and local residents, a senior police official told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website. State owned Al-Ahram claimed the death in Alexandria was a street vendor who was shot in the back. The shooter, an alleged Muslim Brotherhood member, was arrested shortly after, the paper reported. Three others were killed in Suez, according to medical sources, after clashes broke out in al-Sabah city, where security forces fired teargas at a pro-Morsi march. Protesters responded by firing birdshot and fireworks, according to state news agency MENA. Eight people suffered gunshot wounds, medical sources said. Nationwide, arrests totaled 169, with six apprehended in Cairo. Violent clashes continued as fresh violence erupted on Sunday afternoon between pro-Morsi students and security forces outside Cairo University with several students injured. Security forces fired rounds of tear gas to disperse the protesters after they blocked a road leading to the main university gate. Clashes also took place at Ain Shams University and the Giza Security Directorate. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 1/12/2014]

Also of interest:
Prosecutor general meets delegation of doctors | DNE
GAFRD: Egypt does not produce healthy fish | Egypt Independent
Doctors Without Rights Movement fires six members for not supporting independent current in the elections | Egypt Independent
Foreign press corps demands release of Al Jazeera colleagues | Mada Masr
Human Rights Watch decries arrest of Strong Egypt activists | Mada Masr
Detention orders renewed for 174 Al-Azhar students over ‘riots’ | Ahram Online, DNE


Twenty-one suspects arrested, two killed in North Sinai; Four arrested in Ismailia
Eighteen suspected terrorists were arrested late Saturday in Egypt’s troubled North Sinai, while four men were arrested with explosive belts in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia just days before the constitutional referendum. An army spokesperson reported that the eighteen men arrested in the Sinai would be investigated; if they do not have ties to militants, or if they do not have warrants for their arrest, they will be released. A security source in North Sinai Governorate said Sunday that the security forces in Arish arrested another three terrorist suspects. Two militants were killed on Monday in Sinai before planting an explosive device in Sheikh Zuwied’s International road. [DNE, 1/13/2014]

Also of interest:
Bomb defused in Mohandiseen | Egypt Independent


Hagel, Sisi talk Egypt’s constitutional poll
US and Egyptian defense ministers held a telephone conversation Sunday on the significance of the forthcoming constitutional referendum for the country’s political transition. In a statement from the department of defense’s press secretary, US Secretary of Defense Hagel underscored the importance of a “transparent referendum in which all Egyptians have the opportunity to cast their vote freely.” Hagel urged Egypt’s Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to “ensure that international and domestic observers have full access” to the upcoming constitutional referendum. [Ahram Online, DNE, 1/13/2014]

Ashton voices support and concern for Egypt ahead of constitutional referendum
European Union (EU) Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton issued a statement Sunday, two days ahead of Egypt’s constitutional referendum, to express the EU’s support of the Egyptian people in fulfilling the aspirations of the January 2011 revolution. The statement held that the EU stands by Egypt to achieve dignity, social justice, security, democracy, human rights and a better economy. “The constitutional process – both before and following the referendum – could offer a chance for a new political dialogue and interaction leading to democratic elections, a fair representation of different political views in the future parliament, accountability for the government and state institutions, and greater security and prosperity for all,” the statement read. Ashton also condemned the terrorist attacks against Egypt and its people, adding that the EU will continue to offer Egypt full support. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, SIS, 1/12/2014]

Also of interest:
Greece looks to form ‘Partnership of Equals’ in Egypt during EU presidency | DNE
Renaissance dam right on track: Ethiopia irrigation minister | Ahram Online
Ibrahim and Sisi hold separate talks with Jordanian interior minister | DNE, SIS
Fahmy to meet with Kerry, Friends of Syria in Paris | DNE, SIS

Image: Photo: Ahmed Abdel-Fatah