Top News: Justice Ministry to Review Anti-Terrorism Bill; Cairo University Clashes Results in Student Death

Two controversial counter-terrorism bills are scheduled for review by the Justice Ministry, the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Monday.

Egypt forms committee to draft parliamentary elections law
Interim President Adly Mansour has established a committee to amend the political rights and parliamentary elections laws. The committee will be headed by Mohamed al-Mahdi, minister of transitional justice, and include a number of judicial officials and law professors, a full list of which can be viewed here. The committee will amend Law 73 (1956) regarding political rights and Law 38 (1972) organizing parliamentary issues, to ensure they conform to the new constitution passed in January. Once the commission starts, it will have fifteen days to present the draft to various political forces and the public for debate. The draft laws will be sent to the cabinet and the legislation department of the State Council for approval. [Ahram Online, 4/15/2014]

Justice ministry to review anti-terrorism bill
Two controversial counter-terrorism bills are scheduled for review by the Justice Ministry, the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Monday. In addition to the judicial review, the interim government hopes to initiate greater social dialogue around the draft laws before finalizing them, according to president’s constitutional advisor, Ali Awad Saleh. He added that interim President Adly Mansour asked the cabinet to put the proposed bill up for debate and to look into recommendations from social and political forces before it is ratified. The Cabinet has already received the State Council’s approval on the bills, but would also take into account any suggestions arising from a dialogue between diverse political forces when issuing the final drafts, he said. The draft laws have not been circulated publicly. However, in March the bills were leaked, eliciting condemnation from some analysts for their ambiguous language and potentially wide application. [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, SIS, 4/14/2014]

Also of Interest:
Sabbahi campaign to lodge complaints against officials for showing bias towards Sisi | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)
Constitution Party likely to be one of the first to support Sabbahi’s presidential bid: Source | Ahram Online, AMAY (Arabic)
Sisi will deliver speech after April 20 | Egypt Independent
Amr Moussa to Asharq al-Awsat: Sisi will present his vision for the future soon | Shorouk (Arabic)
Salafi Call’s Borhamy says will not meet with presidential hopeful Bothaina Kamel as “women cannot rule” | EGYNews (Arabic)


Morsi Ittihadiya trial postponed to April 19
The trial of former president Mohamed Morsi and fourteen others charged with inciting the killing of protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012 was postponed again on Monday. The Cairo Criminal Court also postponed the two previous sessions in order to allow the court to hear more witness testimonies. State-owned Al-Ahram reported that the court would convene on April 19 to hear the rest of the prosecution’s witnesses. The Cairo Criminal Court will also review video footage in Morsi’s Wadi Natrun prisoner escape trial, which is due to resume on April 20. [DNE, Ahram Online, AMAY (Arabic), 4/15/2014]

Court bans Brotherhood from running for presidency or parliament
An Alexandria court banned Muslim Brotherhood members on Tuesday from running for Egypt’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. Egypt will vote for a new president on May 26 and 27. The Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organization in December after it was accused of carrying out an attack on a security office that left sixteen dead. The Brotherhood has denied the use of violence. [Aswat Masriya, 4/15/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egypt court hands thirty-seven Morsi loyalists five years in jail for protesting | Ahram Online
Court sentences twenty-four Brotherhood supporters to five years in prison for violence during January referendum | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)
Police officer sentenced to ten years for Abu Za’abal prisoner killings to appeal on April 23 | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


IMF official says Gulf support should not substitute long-term economic reform
Egypt “has not asked for financial support,” but the International Monetary Fund will consider offering support “in the same way that we would to any other member”, said Masood Ahmed, director of IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department Monday during a press briefing on the region’s economic outlook. Gulf State support has provided Egypt with “much needed breathing space” and allowed the country to deal with current economic pressures, he said, but it should not be considered a substitute for reforms targeting Egypt’s long-term economic development. In related news, Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State for Economic Affairs in charge of cooperation with Egypt, told Alroeya newspaper on Sunday that aid will not last forever. “The priority is to complete the agreed-upon development projects and then work on a comprehensive plan to help the Egyptian economy achieve sustainable growth,” he said. [DNE,Egypt Independent, 4/15/2014]

Egypt to raise electricity prices before election; Govt imposes consumption limits in ministries
Egypt plans to boost electricity prices for the richest 20 percent of its citizens before the presidential elections at the end of May, as the country has ‘no time to waste’ in starting reforms, the planning minister said. Ashraf al-Arabi, Egypt’s minister of planning and international cooperation, this week said the decision on raising gasoline prices will be taken “very soon,” but declined to provide further details. In an effort to rationalize energy consumption, Minister of Industry, Foreign Trade and Investment Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour issued a decision on Monday obliging ministries and governmental authorities and institutions to reduce their electricity consumption by 20 percent. In a similar move, the religious endowments minister has ordered mosques not to run air conditioners before May 15 and after that date to use air conditioning only during prayer time and half an hour before and after the call to prayer. [Reuters, 4/15/2014]

Also of Interest:
Israel in talks with Egypt, Turkey on major gas export deals | DNE
New bankruptcy law in the works | Mada Masr
Egypt’s wheat supply sufficient to last until June 19 says minister | Aswat Masriya
Natural gas supplies to be temporarily reduced by 5 percent | DNE
Investment projects in transportation sector total $3.5 billion says transport minister | DNE
Egypt’s new investment law ignites controversy | Ahram Online


Student killed, two reporters injured by gunfire at Cairo University clashes
A student, Mohamed Adel, died and two reporters suffered gunshot wounds on Monday during clashes at Cairo University that erupted between security forces and students loyal to ousted president Mohamed Morsi, according to Al-Ahram. Reports differ as to who killed Adel, the fourteenth student killed this school year, with the pro-Morsi students and security forces blaming each other. Security forces fired teargas at protesters who in turn hurled fireworks and at least two petrol bombs at police lines, a Reuters reporter said. The ministry of interior stressed on Monday that no police personnel were present inside Cairo University where one student was killed during clashes on Monday and two journalists injured by gunshots. “Police officers were outside the Cairo University campus using only tear gas to disperse protests outside the main gates of the university,” read the statement posted on the ministry’s official Facebook page. Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim also accused the Muslim Brotherhood of targeting journalists during the Cairo University clashes. According to photojournalist Amru Salahuddien, Central Security Forces used live ammunition and targeted journalists. “I have a nice hole in my backpack and I saw a couple of students severely injured,” said Salahuddien. [Ahram Online, DNE, 4/14/2014]

Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate head calls for a freeze in field coverage
The head of Egypt’s Journalists’ Syndicate Diaa Rashwan has called for a halting of reporting in the field after two journalists, Khaled Hussein and Amr Abdel-Fattah, were injured by gunfire while covering clashes between police and pro-Muslim Brotherhood students on Monday. He also called for a protest on Thursday in front of the Journalists Syndicate to condemn the repeated attacks on journalists. Rashwan said he had called for newspapers to put field reporters on contract – the only way for them to become part of the syndicate and, accordingly, enjoy the syndicate’s backing and protection. He added that an operations room is being set-up in the syndicate to follow field reporters and provide commissioned safety workshops for journalists. The syndicate filed a complaint at the prosecutor’s office on Monday to investigate Hussein and Abdel-Fattah’s injuries. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 4/14/2014]

Also of Interest:
50 percent of Egyptians ineligible to benefit from social housing program: EIPR | DNE
Egypt doctors to go on ‘administrative’ strike | Ahram Online
AFTE outlines ongoing security violations as journalist critically wounded during clashes | DNE
Security forces fire tear gas on Morsi rally in Gharbiya | Shorouk (Arabic)
Brotherhood students demonstrate at Alexandria University demanding release of colleagues | AMAY (Arabic)  


Bomb in Dokki injures two policemen, civilian; Sound bomb injures twenty-five students in Daqahliya  
A homemade bomb exploded near a traffic police post on a bridge over the Nile River in central Cairo early Tuesday, wounding two policemen and a civilian, security officials said. Police sealed off the blast site on the Galaa bridge in the Dokki neighborhood, and a bomb disposal team combed the area to make sure there were no other explosive devices, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. Egypt’s MENA state news agency said two policemen were wounded in the explosion, but made no mention of a civilian casualty. Such discrepancies are common in the aftermath of similar attacks. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. In related news, Egypt’s health ministry reported that twenty-five civilians were injured when a sound bomb was detonated inside a girls middle school in the Daqahliya governorate on Tuesday. The wounded were transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. [Ahram Online, Reuters, DNE, AP, Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, 4/14/2014]

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis leader arrested after murder of policeman
The Egyptian authorities arrested one of the leaders of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis a few hours after a police sergeant was shot dead by unknown assailants in Arish on Monday, North Sinai Security Director said. The leader, who was not named, was moved to a security headquarter for interrogation about the murder of the police sergeant. [Aswat Masriya, 4/15/2014]

Also of Interest:
Military attack on militant hideout kills one army personnel, one suspect on Egypt’s Suez road | Ahram Online
Gunmen launch RPGs at army checkpoint in Sinai | Egypt Independent
Shock troops implement plan to secure al-Arish | Shorouk (Arabic)
Two arrested on charges of torching Minya church last August | EGYNews (Arabic)


Conflicting reports on Interpol arrest of Mubarak’s former finance minister
Interpol arrested on Monday Egypt’s former finance minister Youssef Boutros Ghali when he arrived in Paris on a flight from London, a judicial source in the general prosecution’s international cooperation office told Ahram Online. There are mixed reports concerning Ghali’s fate. Sources at Cairo Airport told Ahram Online that Ghali was only summoned for questioning by Interpol after arriving to Paris and would return back to London without being extradited to Egypt. However, a judicial source told Ahram Online that he was expected to return to Egypt within a few hours of his arrest. Other informed sources say that Ghali might be sent to London, which unlike France has no extradition policy with Egypt. Ghali served as Egypt’s finance minister from 2004 until the Egyptian revolution in January 2011. EGYNews, a state-run news agency, reported that Ghali denied reports of his arrest in a press statement. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr 4/14/2014]

Egypt and EU sign agreement for EU Election Observer Mission
In a ceremony on Monday held at the ministry of foreign affairs, Head of the European Union Delegation to Egypt James Moran and Deputy Minister for African Affairs Hamdy Loza signed the Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the Election Observation Mission. This followed a separate ceremony held on Sunday evening, in which Moran and head of the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) Anwar al-Rashad al-Assi signed an agreement. EU High Representative Catherine Ashton praised Monday plans for an EU delegation to monitor upcoming presidential elections in Egypt while voicing concern over the 529 defendants sentenced to death in a Minya court. Ashton also clarified her itinerary on last week’s visit saying that for logistical reasons the only presidential candidate she was able to meet with was Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. [DNE, 4/14/2014]

American delegation meets with defense minister; Industry minister says Egypt looking to revitalize US economic relations
An American delegation met with Defense Minister Sedky Sobhy on Tuesday, Egypt’s MENA state news agency reported. The delegation consisted of former military men and strategic analysts. In the meeting, they tackled developments in Egypt and the region and their implication on stability. MENA clarified that the delegation supports Egypt’s “efforts toward democratization following the passing of the new constitution,” as well as the roadmap and Egypt’s efforts to fight terrorism. In related news, Egypt seeks to “open a new page” of bilateral economic relations with the United States and address mutual interests between the two countries, Minister of Industry, Foreign Trade and Investment Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said on Sunday, according to a statement from the ministry. The statement was made during a Sunday meeting between Abdel Nour and US Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East Dan Mullaney to discuss methods of cooperation between the two countries, which has been hindered after June 30, Abdel Nour said. [Mada Masr, Shorouk (Arabic) 4/15/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian ambassador will not return to Doha | Egypt Independent
NATO secretary general’s visit to Egypt to be arranged soon: spokesperson | Ahram Online
Canadian foreign minister scheduled to visit Cairo | DNE