Top News: Parliamentary Affairs Minister to Act as Egypt’s Interim Justice Minister

Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail mandated on Monday that Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Magdi al-Agati act as a caretaker Justice Minister until a new minister is appointed, replacing recently sacked Ahmed al-Zind. Ismail said that there are no candidates yet for the position, though a new minister will be appointed within days. Ismail thanked Zind for his service, saying, “Zind has acted fully within his role, and we thank him for his efforts while in office.” Denying news of a cabinet reshuffle, Ismail said a new justice minister would be appointed within a few days. The Judges’ Club, meanwhile, said Monday it would welcome any new justice minister. “We won’t interfere in the executive power’s work, and the government didn’t ask us to provide candidates,” head of the Judges’ Club Abdullah Fathi said. The club, previously headed by Zind, had strongly condemned his dismissal. Zind’s dismissal sparked a debate on whether the move was constitutional or if it bypassed parliament’s functions stipulated in the constitution. [Ahram Online, AMAY, 3/15/2016]


Parliament to give top priority to media laws
Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Al said Monday that the parliament’s legislative agenda in the near future will give top priority to issuing new media and press laws in line with the new constitution. “I as speaker face a hostile media campaign that is trying its best to portray the country’s new parliament as ineffective and lacking in achievements after two months in session,” said Abdel-Al in a meeting with journalists. “The media does not want to understand that the House of Representatives has been passing through hard times since it held its first session on January 10,” he said. The meeting was attended by members of the board of the Journalists Syndicate and a number of editors-in-chief of national and private newspapers and magazines. Abdel-Al stressed that parliament has not received any draft laws aimed at regulating the media or the press in line with the new constitution. “I have not received any laws in this respect from the government or from any other institution,” said Abdel-Al. Abdel-Al said he fully understands the importance of issuing new laws that give the media greater freedoms. Egypt’s Court of Cassation, meanwhile, is looking into appeals challenging the membership validity of more than 100 of the country’s MPs, parliamentary sources told Al-Ahram newspaper Monday. The source said that the court sent a notice to parliament informing several MPs that the court is looking into the appeals, which were made by hopeful parliamentary candidates alleging that violations took place in the parliamentary voting process.   The appeals name several high-profile MPs including Abdel-Al and the head of the ‘In Love of Egypt’ parliamentary bloc Sameh Seif al-Yazal. [Ahram Online, 3/14/2016]


Detention of 15-year-old renewed fifth time pending investigation
State Security Prosecution renewed on Tuesday the detention of a 15-year-old boy for the fifth time pending investigation on charges of bomb possession and belonging to a banned group, High State Security Prosecution chairperson Tamer al-Fergani said. State security forces arrested Abdel Rahman Abdullah Youssef on January 6. Human rights lawyer Doaa Mostafa said Youssef was questioned by prosecutors without a lawyer present. [Cairo Post, 3/15/2016]


Egypt central bank to hold pound steady at new rate, holds auctions
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) held the pound steady at 8.85 pounds per dollar at an exceptional foreign currency auction today for $200 million. The CBE said the auction, which sold $198.3 million, was meant to finance imports of essential goods. The CBE also said it plans to sell $1.5 billion at an exceptional auction tomorrow to cover temporary overdrafts of foreign currency at banks. “The central bank announces it will hold an exceptional auction for $1.5 billion on Wednesday to cover customer debts in foreign currency that were made in import operations,” it said. [Reuters, 3/15/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt struggling to end corruption in wheat | Reuters
  • Bread scare hurts Egypt’s effort to resolve wheat problem | Bloomberg
  • Egypt’s GASC targeting 4-4.5 million tonnes of local wheat buying in 2016 | Reuters
  • Egypt Finance Minister says devaluation has no major impact on budget deficit | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt parliament returns budget to government after partial floating of pound | DNE


Journalist watchdog says 53 violations documented in February
Journalist against Torture Observatory (JATO) released its monthly report in which it listed 53 violations against journalists documented in February. The report listed 12 types of violations against journalists by the government, and ministries of interior and justice in February 2016. The report highlighted 32 cases of journalists prevented from covering events and the removal of content on their cameras. JATO added that journalists faced four cases of verbal harassment, two cases of assaults, and two cases in which a fine was imposed. According to the report, six lawsuits were filed against journalists. Other cases included preventing broadcast and temporary off-air orders, arrests, assault, injures inside detention, and the confiscation of material planned for publication. JATO said the majority of the violations occurred in the Cairo governorate. [DNE, 3/14/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Alexandria sanitation workers’ strike extends to fifth day | DNE
  • NCW program aims to train women entrepreneurs across Egypt | AMAY
  • Dar al-Ifta says Zika-infected women may not have abortion after 120 days of pregnancy | Aswat Masriya


Sinai State publishes ‘video evidence’ of Sinai attacks
The Sinai State, Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate, claimed responsibility for two attacks that purportedly occurred on Monday in Sinai. The militant group published a video showing an explosion that occurred when an IED detonated near an armoured personnel vehicle south of Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai. The Sinai State also published photos allegedly showing the official uniforms, laptops, and explosive detection devices of the Egyptian Armed Forces. The group said the photos were evidence of a raid on an Armed Forces checkpoint in Central Sinai.  The photos also showed the identification documents of an army officer. In a separate incident, an officer was shot dead by unknown assailants near a police station in North Sinai’s al-Arish, Interior Ministry Spokesperson Abu Bakr Abdel-Karim said Monday. The assailants opened fire near the police station, killing officer Mohamed Sayed Hafez, who was in charge of securing the facility. [DNE, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 3/14/2016]

ISIS reportedly abducts 15 Egyptians in Libya
Privately owned Al Masry Al Youm reported Tuesday that approximately 15 Egyptian workers were kidnapped by the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in Libya. Conflicting reports have emerged on the nationalities with of the workers, with Mada Masr, reporting that three of the kidnapped workers are Tunisian, while the rest are Egyptian. Lawyer Rami Magdi, whose father is among those reportedly kidnapped, said the workers were abducted Monday as they returned home from work in Tripoli. Magdi received the news of his father’s kidnapping from his brother, who also lives in Libya. Although Magdi says it is widely believed the hostages were taken by ISIS, this has not been confirmed by the group itself. Magdi added that Mohamed Abu Bakr, Egypt’s Ambassador to Tripoli, was contacted. According to Abu Bakr negotiations are ongoing with the kidnappers to free the workers. Hisham al-Naqeeb, a Foreign Ministry official, said Tuesday that ministry is investigating the case. The daughter of one of the kidnapped workers, Fairouz Magdy, called on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to intervene directly, as she told the privately owned Al-Wafd newspaper that her father went to Libya because he couldn’t find work in Egypt. [AMAY, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 3/15/2016]

Also of Interest

  • 46 Syrians arrested for illegally entering Egypt from Sudan | Ahram Online


Egypt, Italy prosecutors agree on ‘joint effort’ in Regeni probe
The Egyptian prosecutor-general met with Rome’s chief prosecutor Monday to discuss updates in the case of the death of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni, agreeing to organize a meeting between Italian investigators and their counterparts in Egypt’s Ministry of Interior. Egyptian Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek and Rome’s chief Prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone issued a joint statement following their meeting in Cairo in which they agreed to “boost mutual cooperation to define the reality of events and succeed in identifying those responsible” for Regeni’s death. An Egyptian investigator told ANSA the talks were “positive” and that all leads were “open” to be followed. Earlier on Monday Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said that Pignatone’s trip to Cairo will bring a definite improvement to cooperation with Egyptian authorities as both parties probe Regeni’s death, Italian news agency ANSA reported. “Up until now, cooperation hasn’t been sufficient. I’m convinced that this meeting can at least try to lay the basis for a more intense and satisfying collaboration,” Gentiloni said. Giza prosecutors meanwhile ordered on Monday the reviewing of surveillance footage near the Italian consulate in Cairo to determine the identity of a person who allegedly fought with Regeni one day before his disappearance, judicial sources told Ahram Online. [DNE, ANSA, 3/15/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Foreign Minister to visit Italy | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr
  • Relatives demand action on Egyptian missing in Italy | Egypt Independent
  • Agreements on Ethiopia’s dam signed within two weeks says minister | AMAY
  • Free Egyptians Party: EU parliament did not accuse Egypt’s security apparatus in Guilio Regeni case | DNE