Top News: NSF Leaders Refuse to Meet Kerry in Protest against US Pro-Morsi Stance

Morsi Sinai Presidency.jpg

Hamdeen Sabbahi and Mohamed ElBaradei of the National Salvation Front (NSF) will not meet US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Egypt, said Heba Yassin of the Popular Current Party.

Salafist parties form coalition to contest Egypt parliamentary election

Al-Gamaa al-Islamiya’s Building and Development Party has formed a coalition with three other Salafist parties to contest upcoming parliamentary elections. Safwat Abdel-Ghani, Shura Council member and head of the party’s political office, told Reuters the alliance would include the Asala Party; the Watan Party, formed by ex-Nour Party members, and Salafist preacher Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail’s Raya Party. Abdel-Ghani predicted the coalition would win 30 percent of seats in the lower house of parliament to become the second-largest bloc after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. [Ahram Online, 2/28/2013]

ElBaradei condemns Egypt authorities’ response to popular protests
The way in which the Egyptian authorities and the security forces are continuing to deal with increasing protests in the Suez Canal cities and other cities across the country "reflect ignorance and oppression," Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the Constitution Party and leading member of the opposition umbrella group the National Salvation Front (NSF), said on Thursday. This represents a "lack of understanding and lack of adequate management" on the part of the authorities, ElBaradei said on his official Twitter account. His comments come in response to ongoing protests in the Suez Canal city of Port Said and other Nile Delta cities including Mansoura, which have witnessed violent protests between police forces and protesters taking part in a ‘civil disobedience’ campaign. [Ahram Online, 2/28/2013]

Dates to declare candidacy in upcoming elections to be announced Saturday
The opening date to declare candidacy in the upcoming parliamentary elections is slated to be announced on Saturday, said High Elections Committee spokesperson Hesham Mokhtar. “[The High Elections Committee] will also announce the schedule and rules for campaigning” during Saturday’s press conference, he said. Voting will take place over two days, and polls would be open from 9 am to 9 pm, Mokhtar said, adding that “there will be a box for individual runners and another for list candidates.” [Egypt Independent, SIS, 2/28/2013]

Shura Council: SCC not entitled to review election law amendments
According to the Constitution, the Supreme Constitutional Court does not have the right to review amendments to the new Parliamentary Elections Law, Shura Council MP Taher Abdel Mohsen declared on Thursday. The law governs the upcoming House of Representatives elections slated to begin on 22 April. The recently ratified Constitution stipulates that the SCC may not review laws after the Shura Council has amended them, argued Abdel Mohsen, the head of the council’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee. [Egypt Independent,

Also of Interest:
NCW draft law to combat violence against women | DNE
Minister accuses election boycotters of sowing ‘destruction and chaos’ | Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic)
Borhami: We will withdraw if the Judges Club boycotts election monitoring | EGYNews (Arabic)


Court turns down appeal against TV host Okasha

A Cairo criminal court turned down on Thursday an appeal by a Muslim Brotherhood member against television host Tawfik Okasha on charges of slandering the group.  Okasha had said in an episode on his television channel that was shut down upon a court order that the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader gave a lawyer a large amount of money to bribe voters into electing Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. [Aswat Masriya, 2/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Deputy of State Council court: Boycotts won’t affect the legitimacy of the elections or parliament |  EGYNews (Arabic)


‘With or without IMF’ Egypt needs economic reform: PM spokesman

With or without the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan, Egypt would have had to pursue a programme for economic reform, argues Alaa al-Hadidi, official spokesman for the prime minister. According to sources who had contributed to the drafting of the reform program "the final draft of the program" that will be sent to the IMF before the end of this week offers clear guidelines for increasing taxes on some commodities, to expand the volume of tax revenues by integrating the informal economy into the formal economy, and to cut down on subsidies. The International Monetary Fund is currently studying revised fiscal projections for Egypt’s economy and no date has been set to resume talks on an IMF loan program, an IMF spokesman said on Thursday. [Ahram Online, Reuters, 3/1/2013]

Flour subsidies at stake as bakers plan mass strike
A meeting Thursday between government officials and bakery owners has temporarily averted a mass strike planned for Friday. Bakery owners postponed the strike to next Monday after meeting with Supply Minister Bassem Kamal, head of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Ahmed al-Wakeel and other officials in an attempt to address their grievances. Any shortage of bread in Egypt would likely touch off unrest as the government grapples with an economic crisis rooted in two years of political turmoil. The heavily-indebted state faces a deficit that will hit 12.3 percent of GDP in the year to the end of June unless economic reforms are implemented. [Aswat Masriya/Reuters, Egypt Independent, 2/28/2013]

Dollar curbs not seen halting dire Egypt reserves slide
Egypt’s central bank is expected to report next week that it has slowed the rapid erosion of its foreign currency reserves but failed to halt it, despite sharp limits it has put on its sales of dollars, which economists say are punishing business. Investment bank CI Capital bank predicted a decline of another $900 million in central bank foreign reserves to $12.7 billion for February, ahead of the publication of the figure by the central bank around March 7. [Reuters, 2/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s President Morsi reinstates Port Said’s duty-free zone Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
EGX shares market value falls LE700 million Egypt Independent, Ahram Online


Egypt police protest in Abdeen, Sohag and Giza

Bearded police officers protested in Abdeen on Friday, calling on President Mohamed Morsi to implement the administrative court’s ruling allowing them to be reinstated. They were joined by members of the Nour Party and Jama’a al-Islamiya. The Interior Ministry had suspended the officers from service due to their facial hair, which was against the ministry’s dress code.
Meanwhile in Sohag, dozens of low-ranking police officers blocked the railway lines in Aref Square, demanding the sacking of their chief detective and other leaders at the Sohag Security Directorate, as well as demanding arms. Officers laid siege to a courthouse in Giza Thursday after three villagers accused of attacking a police station were released.
The officers closed the station and announced strike action, calling for an investigation into the attack on police. [DNE, Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), 1/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Morsi meets Sinai tribal chiefs | Egypt Independent
120KG aerial bomb found in North Sinai | EGYNews (Arabic)
Police search for 500 Palestinians accused of terrorism, illegally entering the country | Egypt Independent


Pro-military protests in Nasr City draw controversial public figures

Pro-military forces called for the mass demonstration against the “Brotherhoodization” of the military in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Nasr City. Notable public figures including former Supreme Constitutional Court Vice President Tahani al-Gebali, Mostafa Bakry and Tawfiq Okasha have said they would be present. Participating political forces include the Silent Majority Movement, the Military Retirees Coalition, the Egyptian Revolution Union, the Maspero Youth Union and the Federation of Trade Unions. Defense minister Sisi, responding to calls from reactionary political factions for the military to wrest power of the country away from President Morsi, reaffirmed his loyalty to the country as a whole and no one political faction. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), 3/1/2013]

Unofficial ‘morality police’ launches in Egypt
An unofficial Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice announced its existence at a press conference in Cairo on Thursday. Founder Hisham al-Ashri said the committee would seek to implement Islamic Sharia law without resorting to violence. The committee has no intention of copying the aggressive approaches of such committees in other countries, al-Ashri said. "We have absolutely no relationship with the ‘morality’ committees in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia or Nigeria," he claimed. "We will only offer advice to those who want to listen.” [Ahram Online, 3/1/2013]

Tensions remain at Aswan church over alleged kidnapping, forced conversion
Tensions remain high in Kom Ombo, Upper Egypt on Friday morning after a church was attacked with Molotov cocktails in a dispute over a Muslim woman who was allegedly kidnapped and forcibly converted to Christianity. Clashes began on Thursday between hundreds of locals over a 37-year-old Muslim woman who had allegedly been kidnapped and forced to convert to Christianity. Others say the woman converted of her own free will. Officials said 11 policemen were wounded in the clashes. [Ahram Online, Daily Star/AP, EGYNews (Arabic)

Journalists Syndicate elections postponed

The Journalists Syndicate elections slated to take place today have been postponed to 15 March. The general assembly failed to reach a quorum of 50 percent plus one of all eligible voters by 3 pm. The elections slated to take place on 15 March will be held with a revised quorum of 25 percent plus one, or about 1,514 syndicate members. Elections should have taken place next October but strident discord between the Brotherhood-backed CEO of state-run Al-Ahram newspaper and the rest of the leftist-leaning board rendered the body virtually dysfunctional. Syndicate members demanded early elections. [Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), 1/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
‘Harlem-Shaking’ things up in front of MB headquarters | DNE
Human rights organisation blames police for mistreatment of children | DNE
ANHRI and presidency condemn discrimination against unveiled student | DNE, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
In Pictures: Tahrir Square protests| DNE
Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash, for tourism woes | Reuters
Human rights groups condemn Morsi’s ‘authoritarian trends’ | DNE


Egypt requests EU to monitor parliamentary polls, NSF decision to boycott “damaging to political transition”

A European Union official revealed that Egypt had officially requested EU monitors to supervise upcoming parliamentary elections slated to begin 22 April. During a Cairo press conference, Bernardino Leon, the EU Special Representative for the Southern Mediterranean Region, said that the National Salvation Front’s decision to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections is “damaging to the political transition” in the view of the EU [Egypt Independent, DNE, SIS, 2/28/2013]

NSF leaders refuse to meet Kerry in protest against US pro-Morsi stance
Hamdeen Sabbahi and Mohamed ElBaradei of the National Salvation Front (NSF) will not meet US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Egypt, said Heba Yassin of the Popular Current Party. The United States insists on painting a positive image of President Mohamed Morsi, despite the criticisms and demands of the opposition, the political figures claim. During his visit, Kerry is expected to focus on six key issues: Egypt’s democratic transition, the Syrian crisis, nuclear talks with Iran, the Israel-Palestine peace process, and Egypt’s stalled IMF negotiations.[Egypt Independent, Ahram (Arabic) 2/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian Copts in Libya allegedly detained, tortured following ‘missionizing’ claims | Ahram Online, Shorouk (Arabic)
Egypt-Iran agreement is ‘a political stunt’: Tourism official | Ahram Online
FM affirms Egypt’s full support to Syrian people| SIS
Morsi to visit Qatar in March, invited to India and Pakistan | Egypt Independent

Morsi meets with Sinai tribal chiefs (Egyptian Presidency Photo)

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