Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood went on trial at a Cairo police academy on Tuesday on charges in connection with a mass jail break during the 2011 uprising. The trial was postponed on Tuesday to February 22, while the prosecution ordered the arrest of 109 more fugitive defendants. 


Door to presidential nominations to open on February 18: source
Sources inside the Supreme Presidential Elections Commission say that candidates will be able to nominate themselves starting February 18. This is line with the presidential decree requiring the call for elections to start thirty days after the constitutional referendum vote. The Commission will develop a timetable for the electoral process, from opening the door for nominations, in order to prepare a list of candidates. Interim President Adly Mansour’s January 26 decision to hold presidential elections first will, however, first require amendments of two key political laws: the 2005 law (no.174/2005) on presidential elections and the 1956 law on exercising political rights. Mohamed al-Shennawi, deputy chairman of the High Constitutional Court (HCC), indicated that as many as nine articles of law 174 could be amended to fit the newly-approved constitution. [Tahrir (Arabic), Ahram Online, 1/28/2014]

Political players weigh Sisi’s possible candidacy
Reactions began pouring in immediately after SCAF’s green light, which came hours after interim President Adly Mansour promoted Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the rank of field marshal. Acting Muslim Brotherhood spokeswoman Wafaa al-Banna said “there is no popularity for Sisi.” The Strong Egypt Party also condemned the news, saying that the military council’s meeting and announcement are “a new violation on the concept of a civil state and a real setback for democracy.” Meanwhile, Free Egyptians Party spokesman Shehab Wagih was more welcoming of the notion. Before Sisi runs, he must give up his military post. Active military and police personnel are not allowed to vote and therefore do not enjoy political rights. Morsi-era Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky warned the next president of Egypt of allowing the army to “engage in political activities, so as not to lead to his [the president’s] fall and the collapse of the state itself.” According to Mekky, military rule does not only mean that the president comes from a military background, but it also includes giving the military access to control the governing of the state. Informed governmental source said Sisi will attend on Wednesday his last cabinet meeting before submitting his resignation and declaring his run for presidency. [DNE, Mada Masr, 1/28/2014]

Also of Interest:
Minister: Egypt suffers ‘severe water scarcity’ | Egypt Independent


Morsi appoints defense lawyer, trial postponed to February 22
Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood went on trial at a Cairo police academy on Tuesday on charges in connection with a mass jail break during the 2011 uprising, state television reported. Morsi, along with other twenty-one Islamist defendants, spent the session in a soundproof glass cage that was set up to prevent a repeat of the interruptions they made in their first court appearance last year. The rest of the defendants, including some seventy Palestinians, are on the run and being tried in absentia. Morsi and 130 co-defendants are accused of “carrying out a plot to bring down the Egyptian state and its institutions.” A defiant Morsi told the court, “I am the legitimate president of the country and this trial is not legal.” Morsi also shouted at the judge, yelling, “Who are you? Tell me!”  In a surprise move, however, he appointed Islamist thinker Mohamed Selim al-Awa as his defense lawyer, who will represent him in this trial and the three other cases Morsi faces. The session was not broadcast live despite an earlier announcement that it would be aired on state-run television. It was broadcast few hours later. Supporters of army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi attempted to prevent defense lawyers from entering the premises and verbally abused them, according to Ahram Online. Morsi supporters did not appear in the vicinity of the court, according to Al-Ahram. The trial was postponed on Tuesday to February 22, while the prosecution ordered the arrest of 109 more fugitive defendants. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, AFP, AP, Mada Masr, AMAY (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), Egypt Independent, Reuters, 1/28/2014]

Participants of political flash mob sentenced to two years with hard labor
Sidi Gaber Misdemeanor Court of Appeals ordered a two-year sentence with hard labor and two years surveillance to four participants of a political flash mob that was held on August 27, 2013. The suspects were sentenced for the charges of assembly and “thuggery” according to the Egyptian Initiative of Personal Rights (EIPR) lawyer Hamdy Khalaf who is working on the case. The participants were performing a political flash mob among a large group to reenact scenes of “the violence of security forces” during the dispersal of the Raba’a al-Adaweya and Nahda sit-ins, in front of Green Plaza mall in the coastal city of Alexandria. [DNE, 1/28/2014]

Also of interest:
Rights NGO files complaint against activists’ leaks | Aswat Masriya


Egypt’s second stimulus package almost ready: finance minister
The details of Egypt’s second stimulus package will be announced within days, Finance Minister Ahmed Galal told reporters at an investment conference today. Galal had previously said that EGP 20 billion of the stimulus package would be spent on public investment. The rest would be used to cover a public sector minimum wage. “It is ready, we just have a part missing with the oil ministry … and we’ll announce it within days,” Galal said. The launch of the stimulus package could coincide with army chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, announcing he will run for the presidency, a vote he is almost sure to win. [Reuters, 1/28/2014]

Egypt’s government plans to shrink budget deficit from 14 percent to 8 percent in three years
The government is trying to shrink state budget deficit from 14 percent to 8 percent in the coming three years, the finance minister said. He said the government is stimulating the economy and has already spent EGP 18 billion as part of the first economic incentive package totaling EGP 29 billion. He also added that the government seeks to decrease the debt from 92 percent to 80 percent within the coming three years. He noted that talks are underway with some Gulf states on extending assistance to Egypt, citing the previous $12 billion aid extended over the past period. [MENA, 1/28/2014]

Also of interest:
Egyptian bank says lining up first IPOs since Mubarak era | Ahram Online
CBE offers up $1.5 billion to banks in exceptional auction | DNE
EGX gains EGP 1.8 billion | SIS


Police, pro-Morsi protesters clash outside High Court
Muslim Brotherhood supporters blocked off central Ramsis Street with a protest on Tuesday morning, as security fired tear gas to disperse them, several local media outlets reported. The state-run Al-Ahram estimated that some 300 protesters gathered at the High Court in downtown Cairo, chanting against the military and the police. According to the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm, clashes took place at the court between security forces and the protesters, with the former firing tear gas and the latter throwing rocks. Seventeen protesters were arrested, with the ministry of interior releasing a statement saying they were in possession of “a significant amount of Molotov cocktails, fireworks and an explosive device that was detonated at once.” Television footage showed Morsi’s supporters starting fires and blocking roads in Ramsis Street earlier on Tuesday. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 1/28/2014]

Independent group puts January 25 death toll at eight-nine; Hundreds still detained
An independent group has said that eighty-nine people died nationwide during the violent clashes that occurred on the third anniversary of the January 25 Revolution. The group WikiThawra released the figure on Sunday, which is higher than the official count of sixty-four released by the forensics authority. Among the over 1,000 arrested on Saturday, a group of seventy-nine people have been ordered detained for fifteen days by al-Azbakeya prosecution .Another eight were ordered released Monday on EGP 10,000 bail for each detainee by Qasr al-Nil prosecution, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression said. Of the protesters arrested during a march in Maadi, nine, among them prominent activist Nazly Hussein, were released on EGP 2,000 bail each, while sixteen others have been referred to fifteen days detention. Meanwhile,  the prosecution also remanded 119 Brotherhood members to fifteen days in detention pending investigations into charges of rioting and committing acts of violence against residents of the Mouskey neighborhood on Saturday. Sixteen Brotherhood members in Cairo also received 11-year prison sentences for storming the Basateen police station and blocking the Ring Road during the second court session of former President Mohamed Morsi’s trial in early January, according to the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA). Three Brotherhood members were also given 15 days detention after they were arrested in possession of a map of the Attaba metro station. Another 57 members of the banned Islamist organization were detained for 15 days pending investigations in Mansoura, six in Banha, and thirty-four in Minya.  [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, DNE, 1/28/2014]

Also of interest:
NCW: Harassment cases in Tahrir organized systematically | Egypt Independent


Egypt’s Minister of Interior aide shot dead in Giza
General Mohamed al-Said, head of the minister of interior’s technical office, was shot and killed by unknown militants on Tuesday morning in Giza, said a statement issued by the Ministry of Interior. Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif added that the shooting came from two gunmen riding a motorbike close to al-Said’s residence while he was in his car on Haram Street. The ministry said in a statement that efforts have intensified to arrest the criminals. According to his driver, Said has no security guards with him, which made it easier for the attackers to escape. Said’s funeral took place Tuesday evening at the Academia Mosque in Abbassia. Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy said Tuesday the killing of an interior minister aide will only “fuel the authorities’ determination to fight terrorism”. The Coptic Orthodox Church sent its condolences to interim President Adly Mansour, Belbawy and Minister of Interior Ibrahim. Mufti Shawki Allam mourned Said’s death and called for Egyptians to unite in order to defeat terrorism. Meanwhile, Amr Abdel Hady, a leader of the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy and former member of the 2012 constituent assembly, accused the Interior Ministry of assassinating Said due to his “good relations” with the  Muslim Brotherhood. DNE, Egypt Independent, Reuters, 1/28/2014]

One police officer killed, one injured in shooting outside church in October 6 City
An Egyptian police officer was killed and another injured in an armed attack on a church in October 6 City on Tuesday, state newspaper Al-Ahram said. A security source told the state news agency that five gunmen fired shots on the Virgin Church earlier and that security forces arrested one of them. Two other attackers were later found wounded as a result of the fire exchange with the security forces who said they were carrying weapons when captured. The identity of the arrested suspect has yet to be disclosed. Police have set up checkpoints in the surrounding areas in order to capture the rest of the suspects. [Aswat Masriya, AMAY (Arabic), 1/28/2014]

Third attack on Sinai gas pipeline in a month
Suspected militants blew up a pipeline in Egypt’s Sinai that transports gas to Jordan late Monday in the third such attack in less than a month, security officials said. The officials said there were no immediate reports of injuries, but witnesses said thick flames rose into the sky from the spot where the pipeline was struck. Witnesses also said that ambulances had rushed to the scene. The same day, security forces reportedly foiled an attempt by Sinai based militants to plant a bomb in the Kuthar district of Sheikh Zuweid. The explosive device “accidentally” detonated and killed one of the militants, while security forces arrested ten others. Thirty-one small houses, which are used as safe houses for militants, one car and four motorcycles were destroyed. The car and motorcycles did not have proper license plates, nor were they registered with local authorities. [DNE, AFP, 1/28/2014]

Also of interest:
Homemade bomb dismantled in central Cairo | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Police arrest individual for allegedly running explosives laboratory in Helwan | Egypt Independent


United States dodges questions on Sisi’s presidency bid; Hagel and Sisi discuss roadmap
US officials on Monday deflected questions about plans for Egypt’s army chief to run for the presidency, but stressed it was important to maintain “checks and balances” between the military and government. “Only the people of Egypt can take the next steps in their transition,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney as the Egyptian military backed its commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stand in presidential elections slated for mid-April. The US State Department reiterated Monday that the decision on who will run for the next presidential elections in Egypt is up to the Egyptian people, noting that Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has not yet announced running for the presidential election. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Sisi spoke by phone on Monday. .Hagel expressed condolences for the loss of life and offered US assistance after several recent terrorist attacks. They both acknowledged the firm US-Egypt partnership given the recent attacks and agreed to speak again soon. [AFP, Egypt Independent, State Dept statement, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 1/28/2014]

Egypt mulls canceling navigational route with Turkey for anti-June 30 stance
The Egyptian government is mulling canceling a maritime trade agreement with Turkey, which was signed by Hisham Qandil’s cabinet in April, sources said, adding that Egypt has not benefited from it. Major General Abdel Qader Gaballah, head of the maritime transportation sector, said the Egyptian government is canceling the agreement following Ankara’s stance “opposing the June 30 revolution.” [Egypt Independent, 1/28/2014]

Also of interest:
France, UN condemn weekend of violence | DNE
Libyan militant leader denies connection to Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda | Ahram Online
IPI delegation makes emergency visit to Cairo | DNE
Fahmy meets high-ranking British diplomat in Cairo | DNE
Beblawy to visit Saudi Arabia next week | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)