Top News: Islamist MPs to rubber stamp a new election law Thursday

Shura AFP Dec 26.jpg

The 270-member upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, today began debating the new controversial election law, approved by the council’s Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee Tuesday, with the majority of Islamists expected to rubber-stamp the legislation at the end of a plenary meeting Thursday.


Commission announces regulations for NGO elections monitoring
The High Judicial Elections Commission announced regulations for civil society organizations monitoring the upcoming parliamentary elections. The regulations include a rule that elections results should not be announced before the commission officially announces them. Once the elections are over, NGOs should draft reports on the results of following the elections process, as well as advantages and disadvantages, according to the regulations. The reports should be submitted to the commission. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, SIS, 1/16/2013]

Islamist MPs to rubber stamp a new election law Thursday
The 270-member upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, today began debating the new controversial election law, approved by the council’s Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee Tuesday, with the majority of Islamists expected to rubber-stamp the legislation at the end of a plenary meeting Thursday. The 39-article law includes amendments of the law on the exercise of political rights (Law 73/1956), and on the performance of the People’s Assembly (law 38/1972), now to be called the House of Representatives according to the new constitution. The Shura Council approved an article in the elections law that stipulates that women must be included amongst the first four candidates on any given electoral list in the upcoming parliamentary elections, despite objections from the Nour Party. The committee voted unanimously in favour of stripping leading officials of the now defunct National Democratic Party (NDP) from engaging in public political activities, including standing in parliamentary and presidential elections.[Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic), 1/16/2013]

National Salvation Front rifts threaten electoral gains ahead of key vote
The NSF’s cohesion has been faltering ever since amendments to the law organizing parliamentary elections were proposed two weeks ago. One camp within the NSF believes it should run a unified list in the country’s 46 constituencies. The other camp’s preference for two lists stems from an attempt to contain the anger of young members of other NSF parties, namely Dostour and the Popular Current, which oppose the presence of members they see as affiliated with the now-dissolved National Democratic Party. Political groups such as the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, however, said that the party would not be splitting with the NSF as it is the only hope of a strong opposition electoral challenge. The NSF was also looking into objections made by the youth of some member parties regarding the presence in the front of former presidential candidate and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and Wafd Party Chairman El-Sayed El-Badawi, arguing they had cooperated with the former regime. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 1/17/2013]

Also of Interest:

President Morsi appoints ex-VP as Egypt’s ambassador to Vatican | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic)
‘Morsi Jew comments taken out of context’: Presidential spokesman | Ahram Online
Shura Council forms committee to investigate train crash | DNE
Nasserist parties to merge | DNE
Morsy to sponsor civil society organizations forum | Egypt Independent


Former officials repay millions in Al-Ahram gifts case
The state is collecting millions of pounds from Mubarak-era officials who have struck restitution deals to avoid prosecution. Former Chief of Staff Zakariya Azmy must return the equivalent of LE1.5 million he received from state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper in the form of gifts, the Public Funds Prosecution ordered. Twenty-four of 26 defendants have filed for reconciliation and have returned the equivalent of about LE3 million they received in gifts during their tenure, according to a Public Funds Prosecution statement issued Thursday. [Egypt Independent, 1/17/2013]

Violence erupts at trial of accused protester killers
Clashes broke out at a trial over revolution protester deaths Thursday as the angry families of the victims scuffled with defendants’ families. Court security eventually contained the fighting, which broke out when some plaintiffs injured during the 2011 demonstrations in Suez rescinded claims they had filed against four defendants accused of shooting protesters. The defendants, businessman Ibrahim Farag and his three sons, Aboud, Sayed and Adel Farag, say they were protecting their properties from attack during the revolution. Their attorney asked the court on Thursday to consider claims Ibrahim Farag had previously filed reporting the alleged attacks and also asked that the four men be released on bail. [Egypt Independent, 1/17/2013]

Prosecutors investigate sudden death of man in police custody
Giza prosecutors are investigating the death of a textile merchant in police custody several hours after his arrest in Warraq neighborhood Wednesday. The family of the suspect has blamed the police for his death and described the allegations that he assaulted people, impersonated a military officer and destroyed three cars as malicious. Police claim he became violent during the interrogation and suddenly collapsed. The initial medical report attributed his death to bleeding in his brain as a result of high blood pressure. The prosecutor inspected his body and reported evidence of injuries on his leg and hands that suggested they had been bound. [Egypt Independent, 1/17/2013]


Egypt central bank offers $75 mn at Thursday’s currency auction, says US$5 bn in foreign investments left Egypt in six months
The Egyptian central bank offered $75 million to banks on Thursday at its 11th foreign currency auction, the same amount it had offered at the last auction on Tuesday earlier this week.
The auctions are part of a shift in currency policy announced in late December and designed to curb a decline in the country’s foreign reserves, which have fallen to a critical level. The central bank is holding three auctions this week, instead of daily sales. A total of US$5 billion in foreign investments left Egypt during the last six months, the Central Bank of Egypt announced Wednesday. The bank also said direct foreign investments declined by 94.1 percent, or $1.75 billion, in the first quarter of the current fiscal year. [Reuters, Egypt Independent, 1/17/2013]

Qatar lifts Egypt assistance by $2.5 billion, Hegazi says
Qatar will increase its assistance to Egypt by buying $2.5 billion of government bonds to help shore up its economy. Egypt’s cabinet will discuss the debt offering and the company that will handle it next week. Qatar has already provided $5 billion of grants and central bank deposits to Egypt. [Bloomberg, 1/16/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt bourse ends uneven week in red | Ahram Online


Angry residents block tracks in Giza after train kills four
Four people have died after a train collided with a taxi at a crossing in the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt’s capital. The collision happened Wednesday night after a taxi drove through the Ard el-Lawa crossing in the governorate of Giza while moving in the opposite direction. Hundreds of residents in the Giza neighborhood proceeded to block the train tracks at midnight in protest to the accident, bringing train activity to an absolute halt. Ard el-Lawa residents blame government officials for not taking heed to complaints filed by the crossing’s watchmen who cited a defunct alarm system. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 1/17/2013]

Opposition groups plan revolution anniversary protests, Egypt’s revolutionary forces to mark Port Said anniversary
With the Islamist-dominated government now the object of their protests, opposition parties and political groups are preparing to mark the second anniversary of the 25 January revolution with mass demonstrations, marches and sit-ins next week. Various groups say they have been meeting to agree on basic demands and the route of their planned marches, which are expected to end in Tahrir Square and in front of the presidential palace in Heliopolis a week from Friday. The National Salvation Front is expected to meet on Sunday to set demonstration plans for six governorates. Two political movements, the Popular Current and the Free Front for Peaceful Change, have said they will participate in protests organised by football fans of the Cairo-based Ahly football club, the Ultras Ahlawy. The Ultras Ahlawy plan to march on Friday from Al-Ahly Club in Zamalek to Tahrir Square to commemorate the 74 victims killed during the Port Said football massacre in February 2012. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 1/17/2013]


Egypt’s President Morsi hosts delegation of US senators in Cairo
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday afternoon hosted a delegation of US senators, including former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, at the Presidential Palace in Cairo. The aim of the talks was to discuss Egypt’s ongoing democratic transition and current developments in the region, especially the Palestine issue and the ongoing crisis in Syria. John McCain and a US delegation are encouraging the Egyptian opposition to engage in dialogue with President Mohamed Morsi and his government. The group held separate talks with opposition leaders Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Moussa Wednesday, along with other officials from the opposition coalition National Salvation Front. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 1/16/2013]

Egyptian, Malaysian FMs to discuss cooperation
Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr will meet on Thursday 17/1/2013 with his Malaysian counterpart Anifah Hj. Aman, who is currently in a two-day visit to Cairo. Talks are expected to tackle ways of boosting bilateral cooperation in various fields as well as the latest regional, Islamic and international developments. [SIS, 1/17/2013]

Photo: AFP

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