Five pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters have been killed in clashes with security forces on Friday afternoon in cities around Egypt, according to security sources. 


Sisi focused on Egypt’s problems ahead of presidential race; Sabbahy withdraws candidacy
Having secured victory in a referendum on a relatively liberal constitution that he championed, Egypt’s military chief is turning his attention to the country’s overwhelming array of problems – from health and education to government subsidies and investments, insiders said. Senior army officers who work closely with General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi report that the military chief could be planning a run for president. Due to his large success, other candidates are stepping out of the race. Former diplomat Amr Moussa and the Nasserist founder of the Popular Current, Hamdeen Sabbahy, have both said they would not campaign in the presidential elections due to the increasing popularity of the head of the Armed Forces. [AP, Mada Masr, 1/17/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian cabinet meets after constitutional referendum | Ahram Online
Egypt not under the military rule, nor will it be: Foreign ministry | DNE


Transparency International makes tough recommendations after Egypt poll
Berlin-based Transparency International (TI), which fielded an eight-member mission to observe Egypt’s two-day constitution referendum, has advised the Egyptian government to create a “level playing field and secure impartiality” and “secure access to media for all views” in order to ensure a free and fair voting process. In a statement it issued on Thursday, TI cited allegations of a crackdown on campaigning against the charter and one-sided media coverage in favour of the document. The global anti-corruption group proposed a dozen recommendations to bolster electoral transparency in Egypt a day after the referendum closed. The TI statement said, “Greater access to all stages and instances of the counting process to parties, media and civil society would build more confidence in the accuracy of the results and the respect for the popular will.” According to the report, a free and fair voting process in the referendum was “impaired” by the political context leading up to the polls. [Ahram Online, DNE, SIS, Mada Masr, 1/16/2014]

Interim government praises referendum; Official referendum results to be announced Saturday
Egypt’s presidency hailed on Thursday a “high turnout” in a constitutional referendum, billed by the military-installed government as an endorsement of the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July. The turnout of voting on the constitution signals a definite rejection of terrorism, presidential spokesman Ehab Badawi said. A High Elections Committee source, meanwhile, reported that there was a 38 percent turnout in the referendum vote. The Ibn Khaldun Center for Development and Human Rights Studies also said that between 36 to 38 percent of 52,742,139 registered voters cast their votes in the referendum. However, official results will not be announced until Saturday night. A press conference for the announcement would be held in the State Information Service headquarters at 6 pm. Officials would announce the total number of voters who cast their ballots across the nation on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the final results of the poll. The National Council for Human Rights reported 362 violations but argued none affected the integrity of the referendum. [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, DNE, 1/17/2014]

Also of interest:
Upper Egypt Copts more politically apathetic this referendum | Mada Masr
Nour Party describes referendum results as ‘normal’ | Egypt Independent
Judicial source: Implementation of the new constitution does not require a presidential decree | Shorouk (Arabic)
Sixteen pro-Brotherhood protesters detained pending investigation of referendum disruption | Egypt Independent


Egypt: Inflation up in 2013
Egypt’s inflation rate for 2013 as a whole came in at 10.3 percent compared to 7.5 percent in 2012, according to figures issued by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). Experts attributed the increase to the pound’s devaluation against the dollar, the economic slowdown and the Central Bank of Egypt’s printing more cash. Other reasons provided by Abu Bakr al-Gindy, the CAPMAS chairman, included the low growth rate, which stood at 2 percent in 2013, few job opportunities, and a sharp reduction in foreign direct investment flows to Egypt. [Ahram Weekly, 1/17/2014]

Central Bank of Egypt: Economic activity slowdown led growth rate to decline
In its report Thursday, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) announced a reduction of the growth rate of Egypt’s GDP over the first quarter of 2013-2014, registering 1.04 percent compared to the same period of last year with a growth rate of 2.1 percent. The CBE attributes the slowdown of economic activity to the modest growth at principal sectors such as the industry, building and construction, petroleum and tourism sectors in addition to a slowdown of lending in the private sector. [Cairo Post, 1/17/2014]

Also of interest:
Egypt central bank leaves key overnight rates on hold | Reuters, CBE
More UAE cash for Egypt | Ahram Weekly
World Bank allocates $240 million for micro, small projects in Egypt | WB
Referendum boosts market with EGP 7.8 billion profits this week | Cairo Post


Five killed as security forces clash with protesters
Five pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters have been killed in clashes with security forces on Friday afternoon in cities around Egypt, according to security sources. Protesters were demonstrating in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and against the transitional authorities, on the first Friday after a constitutional referendum that authorities have touted as a key step in the post-Morsi roadmap. Two protesters were killed and three others injured in clashes in the Fayoum governorate, south of Cairo. Another was protester was killed in 6 October city, just outside Cairo. Two protesters were also killed in clashes in the Alf Maskan district of Cairo. Clashes between security forces and pro-Brotherhood protesters also took place in Helwan and near Al-Azhar University, where pro-Morsi students blocked off the street, according to Al Masry Al Youm. Fifteen protesters in Alexandria were detained on charges of possession of weapons, and al-Qaeda flags, according to state-run EGYNews. The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy has called on its supporters to rally on Friday for week-long demonstrations in preparation for the anniversary of the January 2011 Revolution. [Ahram Online, AP, Aswat Masriya, 1/17/2014]

General Prosecutor accuses Al-Jazeera journalists of breaking press laws
Egypt’s general prosecutor accused detained Al-Jazeera English reporters of violating Egyptian press laws that safeguard national security and the interests of the country. General Prosecutor Hisham Barakat said in a press release that the journalists face several charges that include possessing wireless communications devices without permission, belonging to a terrorist organization, and spreading false news that could endanger national security. He accused the journalists with the intent of harming Egypt’s image abroad. In his statement, he acknowledged that putting restrictions on freedom of speech is unlawful, until it harms national security and the country’s interests. Al-Jazeera rejected claims made by the general prosecutor that its detained journalists had confessed to joining the Muslim Brotherhood. The channel’s statement said, “The prosecutor’s measure of issuing a statement like this is unusual, as it looks like a prejudgment on an ongoing investigation.” [Ahram Online, DNE, 1/17/2014]

Also of interest:
‘The Square’ becomes first Egyptian documentary nominated for Oscars | Ahram Online, Mada Masr
Engineers to vote against Brotherhood-led syndicate board | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
Son of Cairo University president injured in clashes | Ahram Online, AMAY (Arabic)


Fahmy and Abbas discuss peace process
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Marrakech on Friday. Fahmy and Abbas discussed the outcomes of the recent Arab Peace Initiative meeting in Paris. Abbas “thanked the Foreign Minister for the constructive and positive attitude adopted by Egypt” during the meeting with United States Secretary of State John Kerry. Fahmy also received an update on the progress of US mediation efforts between the Palestinians and Israelis. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a Friday statement that Fahmy “expressed hope that the US side and the international community would exert the necessary pressure on the Israelis to urge them to deal positively with the ideas that arise in order to revive the peace process.” He stressed that Egypt “would spare no effort” in supporting the Palestinian cause. Finally, Abbas congratulated Egypt on the success of its constitutional referendum and its step towards completion of its roadmap. [DNE, Ahram Gate (Arabic), 1/17/2014]

United States expresses concerns over arrests, waiting for observer reports on referendum 
The United States has reiterated its concern over what State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki described in a statement as “reports of politically-motivated arrests and detentions of political activists, peaceful demonstrators, and journalists in Egypt.” She added that Washington is looking forward to listening to Egyptian and international observers who monitored the referendum on the new draft constitution. Washington was watching the referendum process closely and is awaiting the announcement of official results. [DNE, Egypt Independent, SIS, 1/17/2014]

Also of interest:
France: Egypt should look to Tunisia’s example | AP