Top News: Morsi Opens ‘National Dialogue’ in Run-Up to Parliamentary Polls

Hazem Abu Ismail.jpg

President Mohamed Morsi on Tuesday evening launched the first session of his ‘national dialogue‘ initiative with representatives of political parties and groups to discuss guarantees for free and fair parliamentary elections slated for April.


Nour Party to demand amendments to electoral law: Spokesman

Ashraf Thabet, a spokesman for the Salafist Nour Party, told Ahram Online on Tuesday, hours before the national dialogue meeting held by the presidency, that the party is seeking to submit several demands in relation to the procedures of the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled to begin in April. Participating in the dialogue called for by President Mohamed Morsi, the Nour Party will request the electoral law recently passed by the Shura Council meets all the constitutional requirements asked for by the High Constitutional Court (HCC). Despite a name change in the Constitution, the new parliamentary elections law still mistakenly refers to the lower house as the People’s Assembly instead of the House of Representatives. A legal expert suggested the typo could invalidate elections if left unchanged. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 2/26/2013]

Egypt’s Morsi opens ‘national dialogue’ in run-up to parliamentary polls
President Mohamed Morsi on Tuesday evening launched the first session of his ‘national dialogue‘ initiative with representatives of political parties and groups to discuss guarantees for free and fair parliamentary elections slated for April. He said that the Higher Elections Commission (HEC) is awaiting any recommendations that the session may produce regarding the integrity of the electoral process, and that 50 civil society organisations from Egypt and abroad had requested permission to observe the polls. He urged parties and movements that were absent from Tuesday’s meeting to join upcoming dialogue sessions.13 mainly Islamist political parties accepted the president’s invitation to hold talks. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, SIS, 2/27/2013]

ElBaradei: NSF is implementing a plan for Egypt election boycott
Mohamed ElBaradei, founder of the Constitution Party and leading member of opposition bloc the National Salvation Front (NSF), wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday that the National Salvation Front (NSF) is currently preparing a plan of action to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections and will also propose an alternative political course to the public. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 2/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
FJP announces investigation of party member | DNE
Salafi Watan Party set to run in parliamentary elections | Egypt Independent
FJP reiterates calls to keep Egypt’s military out of domestic politics | Ahram Online
Salafist leader Abu-Ismail launches new political party | Ahram Online


Military tribunal imprisons Qursaya Island residents in land dispute ruling
A military tribunal on Wednesday sentenced 12 Qursaya Island residents to prison and acquitted another 14 after clashes stemming from a land dispute with the Armed Forces.
The 26 residents of the island in Giza Governorate were tried on charges of assaulting military officers and encroaching on Armed Forces property. The military court sentenced one defendant to five years in prison in absentia, 11 people to three months in prison and ordered the release of the other defendants. However, the 11 sentenced to three months will be released, as they have already spent three months in custody pending sentencing. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 2/27/2013]

Court rules Gaza tunnels threaten national security
The Cairo Administrative Court ruled Tuesday that smuggling tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip pose a threat to national security and should therefore be destroyed. The court said the tunnels are not controlled by the state, which makes them illegal. The Armed Forces said earlier this month that a crackdown on smuggling tunnels will continue due to security concerns. [Egypt Independent, Reuters, 2/26/2013]

Court throws out case calling for end of Israel-Egypt treaty
The Cairo Administrative Court ruled Tuesday that it has no jurisdiction over a lawsuit demanding the cancellation of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The court said the issue involves state sovereignty, which is under the president’s purview. The plaintiffs said Egypt should void its peace deal over ongoing destruction of Islamic holy sites and the country’s refusal to stop settlement building in Palestinian territories, which they said is a violation of United Nations conventions and treaty itself. [Egypt Independent, 2/26/2013]

Also of Interest:
Former Shura Council speaker pays LE3 mn for illegal gifts | Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic)
Egypt’s mobile phone companies referred to prosecutors | Ahram Online


Egypt wheat stocks sufficient for 95 days-minister
Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, has strategic stocks of nearly 2.3 million tonnes of the grain from international and local markets, enough to last until late May, the country’s supplies minister said on Wednesday. Egypt’s wheat imports are sharply down this year as it endures economic and political crisis, but state and private buyers say the state is allocating priority financing for wheat imports. They are also pinning some of their hopes on an increase in domestic production. [Reuters, 2/27/2013]

Shura Council to deliberate tax reform bill within 48 hours
The Shura Council is expected to deliberate on the proposed tax reform draft law within 48 hours, after the government adjusts a number of articles, said Minister of Finance al-Morsi Hegazy, during a Ministry press conference, Tuesday.  Meanwhile, an amended economic reform plan to be presented to the International Monetary Fund this week, will raise taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, iron, cement, carbonated drinks and mobile phone use. It also exempts those who make less than LE12,000 monthly from paying income taxes. [DNE, Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic), 2/26/2013]

Egypt govt approves law allowing Islamic bond issues
The Egyptian government approved a draft law on Wednesday that will allow the state to issue Islamic bonds, or sukuk, a move that could help narrow a gaping budget deficit and boost foreign currency reserves that have fallen to critically low levels. Shaped by Egypt’s first Islamist-led administration, the law will also allow private borrowers to issue sukuk. Egypt has never before issued bonds that adhere to Islamic principles, under which the payment of interest is impermissible. [Reuters, Ahram (Arabic), 2/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Energy subsidies will disappear by 2016, says minister | Egypt Independent
Egypt Risk Premium Rises for 6th Day as Opposition Boycotts Vote | Bloomberg
Egypt govt deficit soars in 7 months to end-Jan | Reuters


Egypt confiscates missiles smuggled from Libya
An Egyptian security official says authorities have confiscated two pickup trucks carrying 60 anti-tank missiles smuggled across the border from Libya. The official says two truck drivers were arrested and the weapons, along with 20,000EGP (almost $3,000), seized just south of Cairo on Wednesday morning. [AP, Watan (Arabic), 2/27/2013]

Bearded police officers protest outside Interior Ministry
Dozens of bearded police officers staged a protest Tuesday outside the Interior Ministry headquarters in downtown Cairo, holding banners calling on the ministry to respect a judicial ruling ordering their return to work. Police officers asserting their right to grow facial hair won a victory when the Supreme Administrative Court in Cairo turned down the interior minister’s challenge to a previous court ruling ordering the dismissed officers reinstated. An Interior Ministry source argued that the Administrative Court’s ruling had nothing to do with the officers’ right to grow their beards. [Egypt Independent, 2/27/2013]


Port Said residents want army to manage state, Cairo pro-military rally
Activists reported that the notary in Port Said shut down, coinciding with the submission of a petition created by Port Said residents demanding the delegation to the army of running the country. Resident Tarek al-Kordy said there was trouble caused by a movement to collect signatures and that the notary temporarily shut down. Rumours that the army has shut down the notary office provoked an official response from Colonel Ahmed Aly, the army’s official spokesperson. He said the army’s role in Port Said is to protect institutions. “We are not a part of the political life,” he added. Activists and public figures have called for another demonstration at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Nasr City Friday in support of the Armed Forces. The activists have called for protests to reject the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi’s rule. [DNE, Egypt Independent, 2/26/2013]

Protesters injured in Mansoura clashes
A number of protesters were injured on Tuesday in Mansoura, in the governorate of Daqahliya, following violent clashes that broke out between protesters and Central Security Forces (CSF). Clashes emerged after CSF attempted to disperse protesters, who held marches across Mansoura for three days, calling on citizens to join a civil disobedience campaign. The clashes left at least 14 people injured, including five police, in Mansoura in the Daqahliya Governorate. [DNE, Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Ahram Online Video, 2/27/2013]

Also of Interest:

Youth to dance the ‘Harlem Shake’ outside Egypt’s Brotherhood HQ  | Ahram Online
Egyptian schoolbooks industry in disarray | Ahram Online


Obama urges Egyptian leader to protect democratic principles
President Barack Obama urged Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to protect democratic principles in Egypt and work to build political consensus as he prepares for parliamentary elections.Obama and Morsi spoke by telephone on Tuesday, a White House statement said. Obama encouraged Morsi and all political groups within Egypt, to try to build consensus and advance the political transition. Obama also mentioned that new US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to arrive in Cairo on 2 March as part of his diplomatic tour around Europe and the Middle East. The National Association for Change is organizing a protest against Kerry, rejecting his visit, and criticizing what it labeled US interference in Egyptian internal affairs. [Reuters, DNE, Egypt Independent, AP, EGYNews (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), 2/27/2013]

Morsi receives message from Sudanese President, meets Sudanese ministers on Nile water issue
President Mohamed Morsi met with the Sudanese minister of water resources and electricity on Tuesday to discuss cooperation between Egypt and Sudan on the issue of water resources and irrigation. The meeting focused on the Nile water sharing issue. They discussed the coordination of Egypt and Sudan to promote the “development of cooperation between Nile Basin countries”. [DNE, SIS, 2/27/2013]

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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