Top News: Parliamentary Elections Set for April 28

Morsi AP.jpg

Elections for Egypt’s lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, will begin in April and take place over four stages with the House finally convening in July.


Parliamentary elections set for April 28
Elections for Egypt’s lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, will begin in April and take place over four stages with the House finally convening in July. President Mohamed Morsi formally announced the elections Thursday night after Shura Council Speaker Ahmed Fahmy presented him with the elections law passed by the upper house of parliament. The announcement alarmed opposition figures, among them Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Hamzawy, who argue that a timeframe was released as terms and laws of the anticipated polls remain disputed. Islamists, meanwhile, believe otherwise. Coptic clerics and activists are also speaking out against the president’s decision to hold parliamentary elections over the Easter holidays. [Egypt Independent, DNE, Reuters, AP, Ahram Online, 2/21/2013]

FJP, Nour Party to meet ahead of national dialogue
The Freedom and Justice Party is planning an urgent meeting with the Nour Party to address the fallout after President Mohamed Morsi  dismissed his adviser, Khaled Alam Eddin. FJP head Saad al-Katatni asked his deputy Essam al-Erian and FJP Secretary General Hussein Ibrahim to meet with Nour Party head Younis Makhyoun. Katatni could not attend himself because he would be travelling to Japan, FJP leader Nagy Nageeb said. [Egypt Independent, 2/22/2013]

Qandil declines football match invitation, fearing assault by crowd
Prime Minister Hisham Qandil declined to attend the CAF Super Cup match between Ahly club, winner of the African Champions League, and the Congolese Leopards Club, winner of the African Union Cup, out of fear crowds would assault or chant against him, a security source said. The match is slated for Saturday in Alexandria, and comes amid wide dissatisfaction with the performance of the Cabinet, which he leads. Dozens protested in Beni Suef against Qandil, after a Freedom and Justice Party website accused residents of being paid to protest against the Prime Minister. [Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), 2/21/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian Nubians to launch first-ever political party | Ahram Online
Egypt’s Morsi reaffirms full trust in armed forces | Aswat Masriya
Shura committee calls for redrawing maritime borders with Cyprus | SIS
Amr Khaled’s Egypt Party to contest parliamentary seats despite reservations over early elections date | EGYNews (Arabic)


Egypt to invite IMF team within a week for talks 
The Egyptian government plans within one week to invite an International Monetary Fund mission for talks, Planning Minister Ashraf al-Araby said on Thursday, signaling an imminent resumption of negotiations over a $4.8 billion loan. Egypt reached an initial agreement with the IMF on the loan agreement in November but postponed final ratification in December because of political unrest at the time. [Reuters, 2/21/2013]

Cabinet think tank: Consumer confidence up
The Cabinet’s think tank released a report Thursday showing consumer confidence is on the rise. According to the Information and Decision Support Center, the index measuring consumer expectations of improved living conditions went up 4.9 percent in January versus December. Meanwhile, the index measuring economic policy confidence jumped 19.3 percent. [Egypt Independent, 2/21/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s stocks slightly up despite ‘civil disobedience’ calls | Ahram Online
12 pct budget deficit threatens investment – minister | Aswat Masriya


Egypt imports 140,000 teargas canisters from US
In January, the Interior Ministry ordered the import of 140,000 teargas canisters from the United States at a cost of LE17 million. Letters between Interior Ministry and Defense Ministry officials revealed that the order was made to address the country’s shortage of teargas after months of violent clashes between police and protesters. [Egypt Independent, 2/22/2013]


NGO draft law to restrict freedom of association: Amnesty International
Amnesty International has called the new draft law which regulates non-governmental organizations (NGO) in Egypt “a new low” on NGO restrictions. NGOs fear the draft law, if enacted, will restrict their activities in Egypt with accordance to state desires. Amnesty said the move to “prohibit national NGOs’ contact with foreign organizations without prior permission from security bodies represents a new low for freedom of association”. NGOs advocated for contrary legislation which would limit state-control over their work. [Egypt Independent, DNE, 2/21/2013]

April 6 movement enters Morsi in space trip contest 
The April 6 Youth Movement on Thursday entered President Mohamed Morsi into an Internet contest to win a trip to space, organized by Axe Cosmetics company. Under the so-called Popular Campaign to send Morsi to Outer Space, the movement said Morsi stands a chance to go to the moon, where he might find more tolerant people to rule. It urged people to vote for him by visiting the president’s profile on the competition website. [Egypt Independent, 2/21/2013]

Protesters gather for “Trial of the Regime” demo
Dozens of protesters gathered in front of the Ettehadiya Presidential Palace late Friday morning in preparation for the mass demonstration called “Trial of the Regime.” The protest calls for the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood and for the trial of its leaders. It also calls for the firing of the public prosecutor, and the immediate release of all political detainees from prison. In Tahrir, scores of protesters on Friday chanted slogans calling for the intervention of the Egyptian army, while anti-government demonstrators in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court chanted against military rule. Demonstrations also took place in Mahalla. In Tahrir, protesters agreed with the Interior Ministry Thursday to open the square for traffic Friday evening after their protest to demand the trial of President Mohamed Morsi. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Shorouk (Arabic), EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic) 2/22/2013]

Also of Interest:
Human rights rapidly deteriorating in Egypt: human rights organizations | DNE


Watan Party leaders discuss discrimination against Copts with US Congress
Salafi Watan Party head Emad Abdel Ghafour met with a delegation from the US Congress on Thursday evening to discuss religious discrimination complaints the US Embassy in Cairo had received from Egyptian citizens. The delegation included members of Congress and Frank Wolf, the deputy head of the committee responsible for US aid to Egypt. Prime Minister Hisham Qandil also met with Wolf to review the latest developments of the situation in Egypt. [Egypt Independent, SIS, 2/22/2013]

Iran is a force that can’t be ignored, says FM
Iran is a “regional force that cannot be ignored,” but Egypt is committed to “non-intervention in any country’s domestic affairs," said Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr on Friday.
Safety in Egypt and the Gulf are national priorities, and Cairo “would not establish ties with anyone at the expense of the Gulf’s safety,” Amr told the London-based al-Hayah newspaper. Meanwhile, a recent letter from members of Iran’s political leadership to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has provoked an angry reaction on the part of certain Egyptian political quarters, including the Muslim Brotherhood group from which Morsi hails. In a letter to Morsi endorsed by 17 Iranian experts and academics, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly called on the Egyptian president to adopt Iran’s ‘Guardianship of the Jurist’ political system. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 2/22/2013]

Also of Interest:
Washington Post calls on Obama to pay attention to Egypt | Ahram (Arabic)

Photo: AP

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