Top News: PM Urges Roadmap Supporters to Vote on Referendum; Islamists Say it Will be Rigged

Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy has urged those who took to the streets on June 30 to also show their support by voting for the recently amended constitution. The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a pro-Morsi coalition led by his Muslim Brotherhood movement, has said it rejects the country’s newly amended constitution, but has stopped short of saying it will boycott a forthcoming referendum it claims will be rigged. 


PM urges roadmap supporters to vote on referendum; Islamists say it will be rigged
The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a pro-Morsi coalition led by his Muslim Brotherhood movement, has said it rejects the country’s newly amended constitution, but has stopped short of saying it will boycott a forthcoming referendum it claims will be rigged. The upcoming “referendum will be a true copy of the rigged polls under [former president] Hosni Mubarak,” read the coalition’s statement on Wednesday, which was also carried on the official Facebook page of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. Meanwhile, Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy has urged those who took to the streets on June 30 to also show their support by voting for the recently amended constitution. Chief of General Security General Sayyed Shafiq said authorities will deal “firmly” with any attempt to disrupt the referendum, a warning directed at followers of the ousted Islamist president. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), Egypt Independent, AP, 12/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Ziad Bahaa-Eldin prefers to hold presidential elections first | Shorouk (Arabic)
Beblawy says government capable of carrying out its decrees | SIS
Egypt’s interior minister urges students not to follow ‘ravagers’ | Aswat Masriya


Egyptian activist Ahmed Douma detained four days pending investigation
Central Cairo prosecution on Tuesday slammed Egyptian activist Ahmed Douma with four days detention, pending investigations over charges of stirring chaos, acts of thuggery and resisting security forces. The charges concern Douma’s alleged participation in Saturday’s protest in front of Abdeen Court in downtown Cairo. Scuffles erupted between demonstrators and police until security forces dispersed the unauthorized gathering. The prosecution also issued arrest warrants for Mohamed Adel and Haitham Mohamedein, leading figures in the April 6 Youth movement and the Revolutionary Socialists, respectively. The labor lawyer is wanted over charges of inciting protests and riots during a demonstration organized on November 26 in front of the Shura Council. Daily Al-Shorouk reported that nine others activists are connected with the warrant, but did not give their names. The Strong Egypt Party released a statement calling for the immediate release of all political detainees and the halting of arbitrary arrests and arrest warrants issued for a number of activists. Meanwhile, The court ordered the release of twenty-three of the detainees, which the prosecutor appealed. The appeal of the verdict handed to only one of the detainees, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, was overruled, as he was in possession of a melee weapon at the time of his arrest. “Abdel Rahman had the knife because he works as a chef and he is the only one from the detainees who was arbitrarily arrested and wasn’t part of the protest,” said Mahmoud Belal, Deputy Manager of the Criminal Justice Unit at the Egyptian Centre of Economic Rights and Social Rights and one of the lawyers of the detainees. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 12/4/2013]

Bishop Aziz says constitution draft changed after vote
Bishop Antonios Aziz, representative of the Catholic Church on the draft constitution committee, has accused the committee head of modifying the document after its passage Sunday. During a Tuesday night dinner event, Aziz is reported to have lashed out at Amr Moussa, head of the fifty-member committee. The event was organized by Egypt’s Armed Forces to celebrate the amendment of the 2012 Constitution. Committee spokesperson Mohamed Salmawy, however, denied Wednesday reports that changes had been made to the draft according to Middle East News Agency, saying that the preamble and the articles read out by the head of the committee during the voting sessions are the same ones that were handed to the President. [Mada Masr, 12/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Fifteen Muslim Brotherhood students arrested at Assiut University | EGYNews (Arabic)
Anti-Coup Coalition calls on one-million protest to refuse the constitution | AMAY (Arabic)
Court adjourns Khaled Said retrial until January 6 | Ahram Online   


Egypt says to pay $1.5 billion arrears to foreign oil firms
Egypt promised on Wednesday to pay $1.5 billion of the $6.2 billion it says it owes oil firms, hoping the announcement made at an investment conference will revive confidence in an economy battered by nearly three years of political upheaval. “There is approval to pay $1.5 billion,” Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy told the gathering designed to lure investment from Gulf Arab states and businessmen. Finance Minister Ahmed Galal, addressing the same conference, said the central bank would supply the dollars needed to pay the firms. [Reuters, AP, 12/4/2013]

Egypt returns $3 billion deposit to Qatar, expects more Gulf aid
Egypt has returned a $3 billion deposit to Qatar, central bank governor Hisham Ramez said on Wednesday. Qatar sent Egypt $3 billion in May, of which $1 billion was converted into three-year bonds. Cairo’s relations with Qatar deteriorated after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was deposed on 3 July. Qatar had been a firm backer of his Muslim Brotherhood and lent or gave Egypt $7.5 billion during the year he was in power. Meanwhile, Egypt expects to receive more aid from Gulf states, the central bank governor said on Wednesday, on top of the $12 billion they have pledged since the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July. “Actually we’re not only counting on aid, we’re counting on investments to come in,” he said. Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah had already announced that the country would take a number of measures to help boost the Egyptian economy, according to an official statement from the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Development. [Ahram Online, Reuters, DNE, 12/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
European Bank funds five projects in 2014: Ziad Bahaa-Eldin | EGYNews (Arabic)
A slight decrease in the foreign currency reserve: CBE | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)  
Beblawy assures Gulf investors | Egypt Independent
Egypt’s official growth forecast unrealistic, Prime Holding | Ahram Online
Egypt government preparing law to protect investments | Reuters
Egypt ranks 114th on corruption scale | DNE, Egypt Independent


Muslim Brotherhood figure says will coordinate with revolutionary forces for protests at squares
Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohamed Zidan said a partnership will soon develop between revolutionary groups, the Brotherhood and the National Alliance Supporting Legitimacy, which supports deposed President Mohamed Morsi, to confront what he described as “the regime’s oppressive practices.” Zidan told Al-Masry Al-Youm that communications will take place between the group and the revolutionary forces which took part in January 25 revolution to stage protests at squares over the coming days. He referred to a real will to reject the ‘coup.’ [Egypt Independent, 12/3/2013]  

Brotherhood students continue protests on campuses
At Cairo University, hundreds of students protested the death of Mohamed Reda, who was killed on November 28, during a university protest. There were clashes between Muslim Brotherhood students and supporters of the Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, at Ain Shams University, reported Al-Masry Al-Youm. Students Against the Coup at Zagazig University announced a strike, issuing a statement condemning security forces’ violent practices against the students, while at Alexandria University, tens of students closed the university’s administrative building because of what they see as a negative position by the university’s president in regard to a case related to detained students. On Tuesday, another seventeen students were arrested by Central Security Forces (CSF) at the Faculty of Engineering of Shebin al-Kom at the University of Mounifeya, according to the Student Observatory of the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE). The arrests came after CSF forces besieged the university campus, where Students Against the Coup were protesting against the arrest of a Faculty of Arts student made on the previous day and a four-year sentence handed to another Engineering student. [Mada Masr, Shorouk (Arabic), DNE, 12/4/2013]

Egypt rights group condemns verdict against minors
An Egyptian campaign to support child rights condemned the sentencing of a group of minors to eleven years in prison in Alexandria. An Alexandria court has sentenced twenty-one women, including seven minors, on charges of obstructing traffic for participating in a protest backing deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. Manadeel Waraq released a statement on the matter, saying that the arrest and detention of the girls violated local child law and international conventions on child rights signed and ratified by Egypt. Manadeel Waraq appealed to the authorities for an impartial non-politicized verdict, stressing the importance of keeping children away from political conflict.  The statement also pointed to the arrest of more than 400 children since June on the backdrop of political events and street clashes, adding that at least twenty-six children were killed during clashes. [Aswat Masriya, 12/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
April 6 condemns activists detention | Ahram Gate (Arabic)
Egypt government rebuilds martyrs’ memorial in Tahrir Square | Aswat Masriya
Egypt’s antiquities fall victim to political chaos | AP


Salafi jihadist leader arrested in Port Said
Tawfiq al-Afny, a Salafi jihadist leader, was arrested after a two-month pursuit by a joint force of the Port Said Security Directorate and the National Security Agency, early Wednesday. Public prosecution ordered Afny’s arrest, charged with incitement to kill military and police members in more than five different incidents in Zohour neighborhood of Port Said, including the assault with firearms against soldiers of the armed forces in a construction site. He has also been accused of attacking the security in front of Abu Siefin Church, attack central security recruits on the Gemil custom port three times, and assaulting a National Security officer in front of Damietta station. Afny is one of Jihadist leaders released from prison by deposed president Mohamed Morsi. [Egypt Independent, 12/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Bomb in front of Shubra al-Kheima police station defused | Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Tahrir (Arabic)
Border troops thwart watch tower exploding attempt | Egypt Independent , Ahram Gate (Arabic), Aswat Masriya (Arabic), Mada Masr


EU delegation press officer denies delegation’s presence in Egypt
On Tuesday, the Anti-Coup Alliance said that they met a delegation from the European Parliament in a Cairo hotel on Tuesday. “A delegation representing the Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance met with a delegation from the European Union, representing the European Parliament, who arrived in Cairo Sunday evening, on a three-day visit during which they met with a number of officials to discuss the latest developments of the situation in Egypt,” the Anti-Coup Alliance said in a Wednesday statement. Press officer of the European Union delegation in Egypt, Rasha Serry, said, however that “there are no delegations from the European Parliament currently in Egypt.” Julia Ponce, press counselor of the Spanish Embassy in Cairo, confirmed the presence of a European delegation in Cairo; however, she clarified that it does not belong to the European Union nor the European Parliament. “The delegation is from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE],” headed by Spanish parliament member Jose Maria Beneyto. PACE is a sub-organization of the Council of Europe, founded in 1949. It has forty-seven member states and is separate from the European Union. [DNE, Tahrir (Arabic), 12/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian delegation heads to China to stress June 30 was a popular revolution | Egypt Independent (Arabic) Shorouk  (Arabic), Tahrir (Arabic)  
‘No one can substitute Egypt’s regional position’: Fatah official | Ahram Online
Breakthrough in British stance towards Egypt: Deputy PM | SIS
Egypt, Sudan coordinate stance on Ethiopia dam | SIS

Image: Photo: Egypt Cabinet