Top News: Political Forces Demonstrate Against Judiciary, Others Sit Out


 The Muslim Brotherhood, from which President Mohamed Mursi hails, announced on Wednesday that it will join the demonstration. The Salafi Dawah plans to sit out an Islamist-organized protest Friday against judicial corruption, saying it favors practical solutions instead. The liberal opposition Dostour Party also rejected calls for protests Friday outside the prosecutor general’s office, warning participants against “dragging the country into political controversy about the judiciary.” 


Spokesperson denies Cabinet reshuffle imminent, Qandil remains in his post
Presidential spokesperson Omar Amer told Al-Mehwar satellite channel on Wednesday over the phone that President Mohamed Morsy has no intention of reshuffling the Cabinet. “Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and his government are staying,” he said. Amer also denied rumors that Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah would be appointed justice minister. A senior government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, had said earlier Wednesday that a Cabinet reshuffle will be announced within a few days. Answering a question on reshuffling Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and negotiating certain figures to replace him, he said these are just rumors and the Presidency does not comment on forecasts. He said Qandil will remain in his post. [Egypt Independent, SIS, 4/18/2013]

Political forces demonstrate against judiciary, others sit out
The Wasat Party’s demonstration against judiciary bloc in the Shura Council is putting forward a new initiative to renew national dialogue, while calling for suggestions from other council members, as well as from the government and judicial bodies. It also announced on Thursday that it plans to take part in a demonstration planned for Friday against the judicial authority. The Muslim Brotherhood, from which President Mohamed Mursi hails, announced on Wednesday that it will join the demonstration. The Salafi Dawah plans to sit out an Islamist-organized protest Friday against judicial corruption, saying it favors practical solutions instead. The liberal opposition Dostour Party also rejected calls for protests Friday outside the prosecutor general’s office, warning participants against “dragging the country into political controversy about the judiciary.” In comments carried by the Middle East News Agency MENA, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)’s Dr. Ezzedin Al-Komi, Deputy of the Human Rights Committee of the Shura Council, emphasized that he read the draft laws on judiciary reforms submitted by Wassat Party, which seek to improve Egypt’s judicial system. He affirmed that the FJP is studying the bill. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Ikhwanweb, Ahram Online, 4/18/2013]

Egypt’s NSF: ‘Participating in elections is a patriotic duty’
The National Salvation Front (NSF) has reasserted its desire to participate in upcoming parliamentary elections – if its demands are met. The opposition group said taking part in the elections was a “patriotic duty," in a statement released on Thursday. Among the NSF’s demands are the introduction of an unbiased electoral law, the removal of Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdullah, and the formation of neutral government which is not biased towards the Morsi regime. The front said Abdullah would be an obstacle to transparent elections because his position is illegitimate. [Ahram Online, 4/18/2013]

Egypt presidency accused of ignoring its mission’s report on rights breaches
Leaks from a report prepared by a fact-finding committee drawn up by President Mohamed Morsi last year has brought the issue of rights violations committed by security personnel during Egypt’s 16-month post-revolution transitional phase back into the spotlight. The Guardian and Al-Shorouk have both recently released leaks from the report, which details the military and police apparatuses’ role in torturing, kidnapping and killing civilians during and after Egypt’s 18-day uprising in January 2011. The recent leaks led Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to state, following a meeting with President Morsi last week, that the military had not killed – or given instructions to kill – any civilians since the revolution. [Ahram Online,

Also of Interest:
Sabbahi: ‘We will complete revolution at ballot box’ | Egypt Independent
Egyptian information minister faces sexual harassment accusations | Ahram Online
Egyptian President Morsi to be interviewed by Al-Jazeera Saturday | Ahram Online


Authority summons Cairo judge for not recognizing top prosecutor
The head of a Cairo court said he is being summoned for interrogation over his decision to suspend court sessions in response to the continued tenure of the nation’s top prosecutor. An Administrative Court ruling on 27 March annulled the president’s controversial appointment of Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah. Sahel Misdemeanor Court head Rowad Hama said that following the decision, he considers public prosecutors in his court illegitimate. He told Al-Masry Al-Youm the Judicial Inspection Authority has called him for questioning on Sunday. An anonymous judicial source alleged the summons is an attempt to intimidate judges. The source agreed with Hama that court sessions are now invalid and said lawsuits filed by the Public Prosecution should not be accepted by the courts. [Egypt Independent, 4/18/2013]

Public Prosecution orders Black Bloc members arrested
The Public Prosecution has issued arrest warrants for 22 suspects it claims are members of the Black Bloc group, according to Public Prosecution spokesperson Mahmoud al-Hefnawy. Prosecutors are accusing the suspects of a litany of charges, including forming a group intending to commit robbery, terrorism, violence, theft, murder, armed robbery and damage to public and private property. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 4/18/2013]

13 charged in relation to Dahshour sectarian violence
Egyptian prosecutors ordered the transfer of thirteen people accused of inciting sectarian strife in Giza’s Dahshour last August to the criminal court. On 1 August, fighting erupted in the village of Dahshour when a Coptic Christian man who irons clothes for a living and one of his Muslim customers became entangled in a brawl after the Christian accidently burned his client’s shirt. The defendants in the sectarian incident are nine Muslims and four Coptic Christians, and are charged with murder, the possession of explosive materials and assaulting security forces. [Ahram Online, 4/17/2013]


IMF official urges Egypt to abolish energy subsidies
Egypt is among Middle Eastern countries in need of a pressing financial adaptation, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said on Wednesday. Egypt is also one of the countries that were harmed by the upsurge in oil prices, Carlo Cottarelli, Director of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, said. Cottarelli urged Egypt to gradually abolish the energy subsidies it provides to its people. Abolishing energy subsidies will lead to a hike in prices but the important thing is compensating those who cannot afford those prices, the state news agency MENA reported Cottarelli as saying. [Aswat Masriya, 4/17/2013]

Consumer inflation rate rises
The Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) has revealed that the consumer inflation rate increased to 8.2% in February. Market research company TNS conducted a field study to understand Egyptians’ perceptions of inflation and its impact. According to the study, 100% of Egyptian respondents confirmed that they have seen a significant price increase in most commodities. While necessary commodities’ price increases are felt across all income levels, it is felt most by those who have an income of below EGP 2,000. [DNE, 4/17/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt delegation heads to Washington for IMF, World Bank meeting | Aswat Masriya
Egypt to inform citizens of power cuts ahead via text messages | Aswat Masriya


Egypt warned Israel of rocket attack, Israeli paper reports; dispatches team to Sinai
The Israeli army says it received warning from Egypt ahead of the Wednesday rocket attacks on Eilat, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported. The warnings prompted the Israeli army to set up an Iron Dome defense system unit in Eilat, according to the daily paper. The newspaper added that high-level Israeli security officials contacted their Egyptian counterparts in the wake of the two rockets, which the Israeli military said came from Sinai and caused no casualties or significant damage. Egyptian military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Ali said via Facebook that the Egyptian Army had dispatched technical teams to Sinai to investigate claims that the rockets had been launched from the peninsula. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, SIS, Aswat Masriya, 4/17/2013]

Also of Interest:
Security forces secure Kafr El-Sheikh’s governor at protest | Ahram Online


Coptic pope suggests church-building law to ease tensions
In a meeting with 20 members of the Shura Council on Tuesday, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II urged for legislation that would protect Egypt from sectarian strife. According to Wafd member Nadia Henry, who attended Shura Council meeting, the pope said that one way of fighting sectarianism would be the immediate issuing of a unified law regulating houses of worship. The law was promised in 2011 by the then-ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces, but was never passed. Coptic Christians have long demanded fairer regulations in relation to the building and enlarging of churches, which are subject to tight restrictions. [Aswat Masriya, 4/17/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt satirist makes Time’s list of 100 most influential people | Aswat Masriya
Egypt’s Mubarak moved to prison from army hospital | Reuters, Ahram
Mubarak supporters, counter-protest block road in front of hospital | Egypt Independent, DNE


Morsy to visit Russia Thursday
President Mohamed Morsy is heading to Russia on Thursday, marking the first official visit of an elected Egyptian president. He will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coastal city of Sochi, where they will discuss the latest regional and international developments and touch upon bilateral relations. Diplomatic sources said the visit is of particular importance as it confirms Egypt’s increasing regional and international weight. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, SIS, 4/17/2013]

U.S. Defense Secretary to visit Egypt, Middle East on April 20
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will pay an 8-day visit to Egypt and the Middle East region starting April 20, the United States Department of Defense reported on Wednesday. In a statement it issued, the department said that Hagel’s tour will include visiting Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. [Aswat Masriya, DOD, 4/17/2013]

Also of Interest:
Rich despite its troubles, Libya flashes cash for Egypt | Egypt Independent

Photo:  Nasser Nouri

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