Top News: Morsi’s Advisory Team Less Diverse after Months of Walkouts

Port Said Grafitti AP.jpg

After seven months, Mohamed Morsi’s presidential advisory team has lost 11 out of its 21 members, primarily because of resignations. The majority of the remaining members are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.


Morsi’s advisory team less diverse after months of walkouts 
After seven months, Mohamed Morsi’s presidential advisory team has lost 11 out of its 21 members, primarily because of resignations. The majority of the remaining members are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Bassam al-Zarqa, leading member of the Salafist Nour Party and assistant to President Mohamed Morsi, is the latest to announce that he would step down from his post as presidential advisor, following the dismissal of fellow party member Khaled Alam al-Din. Al-Din slammed the presidency, denying claims that he had used his advisory post for personal gain, demanding an apology. Nour Party spokesman Nader Bakkar criticised the Egyptian presidency on Twitter, while the party called on the presidency to present evidence that al-Din abused his powers. The presidency released a statement saying the dismissal was as an attempt to prevent the presidency’s image from being tarnished, and had nothing to do with al-Din’s political affiliations, adding that an apology from the presidency was not forthcoming. [Ahram Online, 2/19/2013]

Meeting with FJP’s Katatni leads to possible rift within Egypt’s opposition NSF
A meeting between Saad al-Katatni, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), and key figures of the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) Mohamed ElBaradei and al-Sayed al-Badawi has been well-received by a number of political parties, which viewed the dialogue as a positive step towards national reconciliation. The meeting also, however, appears to have brought to light internecine rifts within the NSF. According to NSF sources, the decision to meet with al-Katatni was made unilaterally without the agreement of the NSF’s leading members, prompting concerns about possible differences between the latter over how to handle Egypt’s current political crisis. Sources said Katatni met with President Mohamed Morsi, briefed him of the meeting, and agreed with him not to replace Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.[Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 2/18/2013]

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Egypt extends voter registration for parliamentary elections | Aswat Masriya
Job creation not duty of govt alone: Egyptian industry minister | Ahram Online
Endowments minister rejects fatwas threatening political opposition | Egypt Independent National Salvation Front lists conditions before dialogue | Aswat Masriya
Army says rumors about dismissing defense minister ‘risky’ | Egypt Independent, SIS, DNE


Ratification of Egypt’s new elections law could take 45 days: Official
The process of ratifying a new elections law could take at least 45 days despite plans to call for parliamentary polls within coming weeks, said Mamdouh Ramzi, member of the constitutional and legislative committee in the Shura Council, the upper house of Egypt’s parliament. The Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) sent the Shura Council its comments on the council’s amendments to the electoral law on Monday, putting the legislative authority in yet another predicament, as it would need to amend the law before President Mohamed Morsi’s expected call for the next parliamentary elections next week. The SCC ruled that as many as ten articles of two draft laws regulating parliamentary polls run counter to the newly-approved constitution. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, SIS, 2/18/2013]

Egypt files new charges against Mubarak’s last premier

Egypt’s public prosecutor has filed new criminal charges against the last prime minister of ousted President Hosni Mubarak over alleged illegal real estate sales, judicial sources said on Tuesday. Shafiq, his three daughters and 10 other accomplices have been referred to trial for embezzling public funds in the ‘pilots housing’ case. [Reuters, Ahram Online, 2/19/2013]

State Security investigations of NSF ongoing
State Security investigations will continue for leaders of the National Salvation Front (NSF). Judge Hassan Yassin, head of the prosecutor general’s Technical Office, sent a request to the Attorney General of the State Security Prosecution Hisham al-Qarmouty to complete investigations into the involvement of NSF leaders in violence. The complaint accuses al-Dostour Party leader Mohamed ElBaradei and former presidential candidates Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahy of attempting to stage a coup to overthrow the regime.
[DNE, 2/18/2013]

Also of Interest:

Prosecution says activist’s body will not be reexamined | Egypt Independent
Court refers lawsuit against Morsi to state commissioners | Aswat Masriya


Egypt to start rationing subsidized fuel in July
Egypt will implement its delayed plans to ration subsidized fuel through a system of smart cards at the beginning of July, the country’s minister of petroleum and mineral resources said on Monday. The move comes as the government mulls ways to restructure subsidies in a bid to attain a US$4.8 billion IMF loan and help close a yawning budget deficit. [Reuters, Egypt Independent, 2/19/2013]

Sukuk law to be deliberated by Shura council, Wednesday
The new Sukuk law will be approved on Wednesday by the cabinet before being referred to the Shura Council on the same day, said Ahmed al-Najjar, member of the economic committee at the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and advisor to the minister of finance. “The new law is entirely different from the previous one,” he said. “It will not be called an ‘Islamic sovereign sukuk law’; just ‘sukuk law’.”  [DNE, Egypt Independent, 2/18/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt economy in ‘crisis management’ mode: CBE governor | Ahram Online
Cigarette tax raise announced soon, says government source | Egypt Independent
Planning minister lowers Egypt’s 2012/13 economic growth forecast | Ahram Online
Experts: Currency war will not affect Egypt | DNE
Egypt currency has further to fall: business leader | Reuters


Beni Suef police strike, angry at escape of alleged cop-killer
Police personnel and low ranking police officers went on strike on Tuesday in the Upper Egypt governorate of Beni Suef, in protest at the escape of alleged police-killer Hossam Abou al-Regal from hospital, where he had reportedly been taken on Saturday following a violent assault by police officers. The protesters accuse the Director of Criminal Investigations of helping Abou al-Regal to escape. [Ahram Online, 2/19/2013]

Report of sexual assaults in police stations

Karim Nasser, a protester arrested for allegedly rioting and attacking authorities, claimed he was sexually assaulted while in police custody. He filed a report to the prosecutor general, claiming to have been tortured and sexually assaulted inside New Cairo Police Station after his arrest. [DNE, 2/18/2013]

Also of Interest:
Suspected Central Bank governor carjackers arrested Egypt Independent


Ahram Online editor says Brotherhood drove him out of institution 
Prominent journalist Hani Shukrallah said the current Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated administration of the country’s flagship paper al-Ahram has driven him out of the institution. In a note published on his Facebook page, Shukrallah — the former editor-in-chief of English-language website Ahram Online — said, “The deed is done: the MB has now fulfilled its resolve to drive me out of Ahram.” [Egypt Independent, 2/17/2013]

Despite Morsi’s promises, civil disobedience in Port Said continues
A civil disobedience campaign in the strategic city of Port Said, at the northern end of the Suez Canal, continues for the third day in protest against what the residents have described as negligence in carryng out investigations into the killing of dozens of residents in violence that erupted last month in the city. Shops remain closed and some students have refrained from going to school, while Port Said’s trade unions have joined the civil disobedience campaign. Port Said Governor Major General Ahmed Abdallah announced on Monday that Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki has assigned a judge to investigate the 26 January clashes. Egyptian television on Monday broadcast a statement saying that President Mohamed Morsi was planning to submit a draft law to the Shura Council to restore the free trade zone in Port Said and to allocate 400 million EGP (almost $60 million) of the canal’s revenues to the development of the three canal cities. [Egypt Independent, DNE, 2/19/2013]

Also of Interest:
Uneasy calm in Mahalla Egypt after a night of renewed clashes | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Author summoned by prosecution over al-Azhar complaint | Egypt Independent
Sokhna crisis resolved | DNE
Protesters and ultras clash during march reveals a rift and rivalries | Egypt Independent
Google blocks YouTube videos | DNE
English-language media play a vital role in telling Egypt’s story | Egypt Independent


Foreign minister discusses Fatah-Hamas reconciliation
Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr met with Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, on Monday. In their meeting they discussed developments in the reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. Kamel Amr confirmed that the Palestinian issue is a primary concern for Egypt, and the government is maintaining contact with all the regional and international powers involved.  [DNE, 2/19/2013]

Egypt flooded tunnels to cut Gaza arms flow -aide
Egypt will not tolerate a two-way flow of smuggled arms with the Gaza Strip that is destabilizing its Sinai peninsula, a senior aide to its Islamist president said, explaining why Egyptian forces flooded sub-border tunnels last week. Essam Haddad, national security adviser to President Mohamed Morsi told Reuters in an interview: "We don’t want to see these tunnels used for illegal ways of smuggling either people or weapons that can really harm Egyptian security."
[Reuters/Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 2/18/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptians protest at Libyan border over new visa rules | Egypt Independent

Photo: AP

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