Top News: Ministry announces governor reshuffle; Islamists to gain eight posts

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Eight new governors are to be appointed in Greater Cairo, Qena, Sharqiya, Monufiya, Aswan and the New Valley, said sources from the Local Development Ministry. 


Ministry announces governor reshuffle; Islamists to gain eight posts
Eight new governors are to be appointed in Greater Cairo, Qena, Sharqiya, Monufiya, Aswan and the New Valley, said sources from the Local Development Ministry. Some of the new governors will come from the Salafi-oriented Nour Party, which was not represented in the recent Cabinet reshuffle, the sources said. Others will be drawn from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is to nominate governors for the border governorates, while Local Development Minister Mohamed Ali Beshir will oversee the whole process. [Egypt Independent, 1/7/2013]

National Salvation Front parties bicker ahead of parliamentary elections
Disputes between the different member parties in the National Salvation Front have intensified as the party prepares its campaign for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Sources close to the NSF say Wafd Party committees in various governorates, especially in the Delta region, object to running on the same electoral list with the leftist Popular Current, led by Hamdeen Sabbahi, and the Socialist Alliance, headed by Abdel-Ghaffar Shokr. The Wafd Party’s youth committees have asked party head Al-Sayed al-Badawi to only partner with parties whose ideologies are in line with that of Wafd. [Egypt Independent, 1/8/2013]


Prosecutors postpone strike, but urge Abdallah to make good on resignation
The nation’s prosecutors have decided to postpone their general strike until their general assembly meets on January 14 , and until it is determined if Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah will stay in his position. Prosecutors had planned for a nationwide strike to begin on Tuesday in protest against Abdallah’s withdrawal of his resignation, which he had submitted to the Supreme Judicial Council. In a statement issued Monday, prosecutors said a partial strike would continue until Abdallah is replaced by a figure who is representative of all Egyptians — not someone appointed by the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, they said. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya. 1/7/2013]

Constituent Assembly members organizing association to promote Constitution
Members of the Constituent Assembly started taking steps to establish an official association aimed at educating the public about the Constitution. Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Mahmoud Ghozlan and Pharmacists Syndicate head Mohamed Abdel Gawad are among the assembly members organizing the new association. Constituent Assembly member Amr Abdel Hady said in a press statement on Monday that the formal request to establish the association would be filed within days, and that it would be open to those who are not members of the Constituent Assembly, "because a large number of Shura Council members have requested to join the new association after it is established." [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online/MENA 1/8/2013]

Ousted SCC judge files suit against new Constitution
Former Deputy President of the Supreme Constitutional Court Tahani al-Gebali, has filed a challenge against Egypt’s new Constitution and its stipulations on the court’s system of adjudication. In a press conference on Tuesday, Gebali said the lawsuit demands the new Constitution be annulled, and that its stipulation that the court rules on the constitutionality of laws after their approval by the legislature be cancelled. “Infringing upon the court is an infringement on the rights of the Egyptian nation," she said, adding that she filed the suit not for personal reasons but “to defend the independence of the court."  [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, El Watan (Arabic), 1/8/2013]

Court acquits Okasha of trying to incite Morsi assassination
The Giza Criminal Court on Tuesday acquitted media personality Tawfiq Okasha of charges of attempting to instigate the assassination of President Mohamed Morsi. After reviewing the TV episode that provoked the charges, the court found that Okasha’s phrase “licensing the blood” was general and did not target the president or any specific person. The court also acquitted Okasha on the charge of insulting the president, arguing that the right to criticize is protected by Egyptian law as long as the criticism is not defamatory. Okasha was previously convicted of defamation by a Luxor court. [Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), 1/8/2013]


IMF had ‘productive’ discussion with Egypt
The IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia director, Masood Ahmed, met Prime Minister Hesham Qandil on Monday and said in the statement that an IMF technical team would visit the country within the next few weeks to resume discussions over the IMF’s financial support to Egypt. [Egypt Independent, Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 1/8/2013]

Sukuk draft law released
The final draft of a sukuk law has been sent to the finance ministry before it will be examined by parliament according to the head of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) Ashraf al-Sharkawy. Al-Sharkawy said social dialogue with political parties and economic associations was the aim of the government and not the EFSA, which is an independent entity and can be approached by political entities but not vice versa, state-owned MENA reported Monday. The head of EFSA explained that the sovereign sukuk law released by the government is intended to organize the financing of the government, state budget, national projects and public institutions. [DNE, 1/7/2013]

Pound hits record low
The Egyptian pound hit a record low on Tuesday after weakening again at a Central Bank US dollar auction designed to stem a decline in the country’s dwindling foreign currency reserves. The Central Bank said the cut-off price at the Tuesday auction was 6.4492 pounds to the dollar — a 0.5 percent fall from Sunday when the cut-off price was 6.4185 pounds to the dollar. The central bank said it had sold $60 million at the auction — the same amount it had offered. [Egypt Independent/Reuters, Ahram Online 1/8/2013]


Journalist found guilty of assaulting police officer, gets year in prison
Walid Ismail, a journalist at the independent newspaper Al-Tahrir, has been reportedly sentenced to one year in prison for assaulting a police officer. The Cairo Criminal Court found Ismail guilty of attacking an officer inside the police academy after a court session in the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak and former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly. During that court session, court room security officers reportedly assaulted a number of journalists, including Ismail, who filed charges against the officers at the New Cairo police station. One of the officers responded by filing counter charges against Ismail, claiming the reporter had injured him in the neck. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE, 1/7/2013]

On Coptic Christmas, Egypt’s Christians voice guarded hope for future
The reported failed attack on a church in Rafah on Monday, coinciding with Coptic Christmas, is not the kind of news that Father Mikhail wanted to wake up to. "It’s very sad that our hurch is still under attack and that Coptic families of Rafah are still being threatened by militant extremists," said Father Mikhail of the Rafah Church. "But we have to be thankful for the good news: the army foiled the attempt." This Christmas morning, the Supreme Military Council’s Facebook page announced that army units stationed in Sinai had foiled an attempt to destroy the Rafah Church, which had faced repeated attacks by Islamist extremists within the past two years. [Ahram Online, 1/7/2013]


Two policemen killed in Upper Egypt
Two policemen were killed early on Tuesday at the Upper Egypt governorate of Qena, the state Nile News channel has reported. A security source was quoted as saying that the policemen were among a patrol that spotted suspected members of a gang known for committing robberies in Naga Hammadi. The suspects tried to escape and the patrol gave chase, with both exchanging fire. [Egypt Independent, 1/8/2013]


Qatar increases aid to Egypt to $5 billion
Qatar has provided Egypt with $5 billion in financial aid, including a $1 billion grant, Qatar’s Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said in a press conference in Cairo Tuesday attended by Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil.  The aid comes amidst a two-day visit by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim. Jassim’s visit is focused on relations between the two nations, and ways to boost economic, trade and investment ties during this critical period. [Egypt Independent, Egypt Independent/MENA, EGYNews (Arabic), 1/7/2013]

Abbas, Meshaal en route to Cairo for Palestinian reconciliation: Abu Marzouk
Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas’ politburo, will arrive in Cairo late Tuesday, politburo vice-president Mousa Abu Marzouk has announced. The visit, according to Abu Marzouk, will last several days, during which Meshaal will meet with Egyptian officials to discuss recent developments in the Palestine file, including the issue of reconciliation between Hamas and its long-time political rival Fatah, which is headed up by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. [Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic), 1/8/2013]

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