Top News: GCC Secretary-General Denies Criticizing Egypt, Blames Media

The Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council has denied that he criticized statements made by an Egyptian diplomat who accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, saying he was misquoted by the media. Abdullatif al-Zayani said in a statement on Thursday that he “denied” media reports about an earlier statement by him. 


HEC to announce final list of parliamentary elections candidates on Sunday
The Higher Elections Commission (HEC) spokesperson Omar Marwan said the commission will announce on Sunday the final list of candidates accepted to run for the coming parliamentary elections slated for March 22. The commission announced late Thursday it would allow applicants who have already registered, but did not submit all the required documents, two more days to finalize their applications. The decision comes after some 509 applicants failed to provide their medical checkups. The HEC also announced it would consider candidate appeals from Sunday to Tuesday. Candidates will receive a response starting Wednesday, for a period of five days. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 2/20/2015]

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Egypt freezes funds of pro-Brotherhood body
A judicial committee in charge of seizing and running assets of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group ordered the freezing of all assets and property of members of the so-called ‘Revolutionary Council.’ The decision will be applied to thirty members of the council, according to Committee Secretary General Yasser Aboul Fotouh. The committee said all funds and property owned by the members either in or outside the country will be frozen. The Revolutionary Council, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, was formed in Turkey in 2014. [SIS, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 2/20/2015]

Draft amendments to Criminal Procedures Law allow judges to overlook witness testimony  
Planned amendments to the Criminal Procedures Law would give the court the power to overlook witness testimonies during a trial, the privately owned newspaper Shorouk reported Thursday. In a cabinet meeting, ministers discussed a proposal to amend Articles 277 and 289 of the law, which oblige judges to hear the testimonies of witnesses for both the defense and the prosecution. These articles were intended as an important component of the checks and balances guaranteeing fairness in judicial proceedings. But the proposed amendments would give judges the freedom to overlook testimonies at will. The amendments have already been sent to the State Council for final review and approval. [Mada Masr, 2/19/2015]

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  • Al-Jazeera reporter in Egypt cites employer’s ‘negligence’ | AP
  • Fayoum court sentences eight alleged Brotherhood members to life, nine others to five years | EGYNews (Arabic)  



Former intelligence chief, ex-ministers open consultancy, investment firm
Egypt’s former intelligence chief and three former ministers have established a financial consultancy firm with a vision to assist foreign investors targeting the Egyptian market, economic daily Al-Mal reported. Former head of the General Intelligence Service (GIS), Mourad Mowafy, has established MEASA, a company specialized in preparing feasibility studies for various economic projects, the newspaper said. The three other founders of the company are former foreign minister Ahmed Kamel Amr, former local development minister Hany Mahmoud and former petroleum minister Ossama Kamal. The fifth owner is Wageeh Gries, which the newspaper identified as an international financial expert. [Egypt Independent, 2/19/2015]

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  • Cairo central train station to become exclusively for luxury trains | Egypt Independent
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Up to 1,770 Egyptians have returned from Libya
Until Thursday morning, up to 1,770 Egyptians had returned home from Libya, the head of the security directorate in Egypt’s western governorate of Marsa Matrouh, near the Libyan border, has told Egyptian state news agency MENA. Major General Al-Anany Hamouda said that tight security measures have been taken at the Salloum border, where many Egyptians are fleeing Libya. Nearly 200 Egyptians have also crossed from Libya into Tunisia through Ras Jedir checkpoint on the Libyan-Tunisian borders, Tunisian news agency TAP reported on Friday. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 2/20/2015]

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Accidental explosion kills two would-be bombers in Upper Egypt’s Minya
A bomb exploded in the village of Samalut in Upper Egypt’s Minya governorate late on Thursday, killing two suspects who were allegedly on the way to plant the device, a security source told Aswat Masriya. The unidentified men were planning to plant the bomb by an electricity transformer in one of Samalut’s main streets, but the bomb exploded, killing both of them before they had laid it. [Ahram Online, 2/20/2015]

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  • Two arrested in Gharbiya on charges of attempting to bomb electricity pylon | EGYNews (Arabic)



GCC Secretary-General denies criticizing Egypt, blames media
The Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has denied that he criticized statements made by an Egyptian diplomat who accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, saying he was misquoted by the media. Abdullatif al-Zayani said in a statement on Thursday that he “denied” media reports about an earlier statement by him. Earlier on Thursday a statement by al-Zayani on the official GCC website, which has been removed, said that the Egyptian accusations against Qatar contradict what he described as the “sincere efforts of Qatar to fight terrorism.” In the subsequent statement, al-Zayani said that the GCC countries “always seek the support of Egypt, led by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi … GCC countries totally support Egypt in all the military procedures that it has been taking to fight the terrorist groups in Libya.” The statement added that any state has the right to safeguard its security and independence. [Ahram Online, SIS, 2/20/2015]

Pentagon says not notified in advance of Egypt’s strikes in Libya
The Pentagon has said that Egypt did not inform it in advance of its intention to conduct airstrikes against Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) bases in Libya earlier this week. Spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday, “We didn’t participate or support them in any way, and we’re not taking a position on it.” Meanwhile, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Friday that Egypt is intent on supporting the US-led alliance, to fight ISIS fighters and other “terrorist” organizations. Shoukry’s statements came in a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, on the sidelines of the “Countering Violent Extremism” summit, which concluded on Thursday in Washington. Shoukry met with Kerry, UN chief Ban Ki-moon, and EU High Representative Frederica Mogherini on the sidelines of the summit to discuss the situation in Libya. Shoukry also met with US National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who raised concerns about human rights during a separate meeting, at which they talked about the attack on Christians, the White House said. National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan also said that Rice underlined US’ commitment to a strategic partnership with Egypt. [Ahram Online, 2/20/2015]

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  • King of Spain extends invitation to Sisi | EGYNews (Arabic)