Top News: President Refers NGOs Law to Shura Council

Morsi-Kerry in Addis.jpg

Egypt’s presidency referred the final draft of a proposed NGO law to the Shura Council for deliberation, having changed a handful of controversial articles included in previous drafts of the bill. Several members of the president’s advisory team held a Monday press conference to unveil details of the final draft, which they view as better than previous versions due to the latest modifications. 


President refers NGOs law to Shura Council
Egypt’s presidency referred the final draft of a proposed NGO law to the Shura Council for deliberation, having changed a handful of controversial articles included in previous drafts of the bill. Several members of the president’s advisory team held a Monday press conference to unveil details of the final draft, which they view as better than previous versions due to the latest modifications. Among the amendments to the law, the final draft of which will be publicized after being referred to the Shura Council, is one stating that non-governmental organizations can be legally accredited via notification. The text of the bill presented to the Islamist-dominated Shura Council was not made public, but a top presidential aide said that Mohammed Morsi’s legal team took into consideration concerns that had been raised by local and international groups. The presidency also announced it would discuss the amendments at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Reuters, AP, 5/28/2013]

Egypt’s electricity ministry denounces calls for not paying bills
Outages have sparked scattered street protests across Egypt and calls on social networking sites for people to stop paying electricity bills, compounding the challenges facing President Mohammed Morsi and undermining the Islamist leader’s attempts to restore a sense of normalcy.  The Ministry of Electricity and Energy said on Sunday that the national electricity network has seen a noticeable improvement over the past three days, which has contributed to the stability of the nationwide network. A spokesperson for the ministry said on Sunday that calls for non-payment of the electricity bills are “subversive”, adding that these bills are the main income for the electricity companies. Minister of Electricity and Energy Ahmed Emam addressed the Shura Council’s Industry and Energy Committee on Monday, saying that private sector participation would “end the power crisis”. He added that a new electricity bill would be introduced “soon”, and builds on the $200m provided for the purchase of diesel fuel and $500m in reserves. [AP, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 5/27/2013]

Shura Council postpones decision on MOI budget increase
The Shura Council’s Committee for Arab, Foreign and National Security decided to postpone a decision on the proposed budget increase for the Ministry of Interior. The committee members’ agreed to postpone approving or rejecting the budget increase until the ministry can provide details of how it aims to restore peace and security to Egypt’s streets. The representatives in the committee were critical of the Interior Ministry for not providing such a plan to accompany the request for a budget increase. The cabinet passed the proposed EGP 23bn budget to the Shura Council for discussion. The ministry is requesting an increase of EGP 4.7bn, allocating EGP 2.4bn for rewards and salaries. [DNE, 5/26/2013]

Also of Interest:
ElBaradei meets anti-Morsi petition campaign members | Ahram Online
FJP ‘ready’ for Egypt’s parliamentary contest: Party leader | Ahram Online
Islamists: parliamentary elections will be held next year | Egypt Independent
Shura Council gives initial approval for witness protection law | Aswat Masriya


Egypt’s SCC deems four articles of parliament elections law unconstitutional
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) declared Saturday there are four articles in the parliamentary elections law that are unconstitutional, in addition to another nine in the law regulating political rights. The court took issue with division of parliamentary seats between different governorates, the use of religious slogans or symbols in election campaigning, the right given to the president to decide the timing and duration of elections, and the inability of police and army members to vote. Shura Council Speaker Ahmed Fahmy has referred the SCC’s remarks on the House of Representatives elections bill and political rights bill to the upper house’s Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Affairs for a report. FJP member Sobhi Saleh made a statement saying the Shura Council would amend the bills to adopt the court’s remarks before referring the bills to President Mohamed Morsi, rather than again to the SCC. Shura Council Deputy Speaker and Salafi Nour Party MP Tarek al-Sohry rejected Saleh’s statement and insisted on returning the amended bill to the court. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Reuters, DNE, 5/26/2013]

SCC stance on right of army, police to vote and draws mixed reactions
Opposition politicians had denounced the text of the revised election law approved by parliament and repeated threats to boycott the vote. Egypt’s 6 April Youth Movement rejected the notion of granting members of the military establishment and police apparatus the right to vote in national elections. FJP spokesperson Mohamed Soudan said allowing officers to vote endangers the country. Spokespersons for the Free Egyptians Party and Egyptian Social Democratic Party, however, voiced their support. A military source said that the Egyptian Armed Forces had yet to issue its position regarding the SCC’s decision. For their part, Islamist parties agreed that the SCC ruling would likely end up delaying parliamentary polls until next year. [Ahram Online, DNE, 5/27/2013]

Top Egypt judges to examine draft amendments to judicial authority law
Egypt’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Monday declared that it would look into proposed amendments to a controversial judicial authority law once they were formally submitted to it, after which the council will issue an official response to the proposed changes. On Saturday, after a heated debate, Egypt’s Shura Council referred three proposed amendments to Egypt’s 1972 judicial authority law to the Shura Council’s constitutional and legislative affairs committee for examination, a move which Minister of Justice Ahmed Suleiman described as a “formality.” Dr. Ahmed Fahmy, the Shura Council Speaker said if the judicial bodies rejected the amendments of the judicial authority law which were approved in principle two days ago, they should submit a new bill for judicial authority on condition that it should be submitted through the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister or the Minister of Justice. Former Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki proposed a compromise between the judiciary and Shura Council that would see retirement age reduced from 70 to 65 instead of 60. [Ahram Online, SIS, DNE, 5/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Court upholds decision to refer bearded officers to disciplinary committee | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya
Court gives Egyptian interior minister 2 year jail sentence, ministry will appeal | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya
Shafiq appeals against Morsi’s 2012 election victory | Ahram Online, DNE


Egypt tackles fuel use, smugglers to stave off summer crisis
Egypt will cut exports of natural gas and tell major industries to slow output this summer to avoid an energy crisis and stave off political unrest, the chairman of the Egyptian General Petroleum Company (EGPC) told Reuters. Tarek al-Barkatawy said Egypt was counting on top liquid natural gas (LNG) exporter Qatar to obtain additional gas volumes in summer, while encouraging factories to plan their annual maintenance for those months of peak demand. Cairo will also need to source more oil to meet seasonal driving demand. Meanwhile, Cairo International Airport will be subject to major energy-conservation measures – including a 20-percent reduction of airport lighting – starting next month, al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website reported on Monday, citing statements by Aviation Minister Wael al-Madawy. [Reuters, Ahram Online, 5/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt leaves price of currency unchanged at forex auction | Reuters
Egypt falls to 107th place in WEF’s global competitiveness index | Ahram Online
Arab spring nations face delayed economic recovery – IMF | Reuters
World Bank funds project to upgrade Cairo-Alexandria railway line | Aswat Masriya
Egypt to return taxes collected from Qatar bank deal | Ahram Online
Egyptian tourism companies plan to tap into Iranian market | Egypt Independent, DNE
UAE’s $3bn aid for Egypt ‘will take time’: Dubai finance minister | Ahram Online
Investment minister: New chart for Egyptian investment to be launched soon | DNE
Central Bank and Finance Ministry talk taxes | DNE
NGOs oppose European bank’s plan to fund oil drilling in Egypt | DNE


Authorities confiscate weapons stash in Minya
Security authorities confiscated Tuesday a cache of weapons and satellite phones at a remote farm near the western desert road in Minya. The security department in Minya had received reports that former convicts were running an operation in which weapons, some of which had been smuggled through the borders with Libya and Sudan, were being traded. Police apprehended six of the suspects, most of whom had previously been convicted of weapon and drug-related felonies. One of the suspects managed to escape during the raid. [Egypt Independent, 5/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Head of Egypt navy visits China to discuss military cooperation | Ahram Online


Report: Many instances of police brutality, Brotherhood torture in April
An activist group suggested on Monday that police and the Muslim Brotherhood were involved in the killing of 24 civilians and the torture of 51 others in April. A report from al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, stated that 16 citizens were killed by gunshot last month.  The report goes on to say that 24 victims died in police custody, and that the Interior Ministry, to cover it up, claimed that they had committed suicide. The center detected 51 cases in which activists, journalists, and common citizens were tortured, laying the blame on the police for 26 cases, on the Muslim Brotherhood for 20, and on common civilians for five more. [Egypt Independent, 5/28/2013]

Egypt’s ‘Rebel’ campaign now online, supporters investigated
Egypt’s fast-growing ‘Rebel’ campaign has launched an official website to collect online signatures for the withdrawal of confidence from Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. The website, calling for holding of early presidential elections, has applications written in four languages, which are Arabic, English, French and German. Meanwhile, Tanta’s attorney general has ordered the questioning of a physician who reportedly distributed petitions from the campaign in the hospital where she works. An employee at an al-Azhar secondary school in Sharqia, in Egypt’s Nile Delta, Mohamed Ashraf, was also referred to investigations after a complaint was filed accusing him of forcing students to sign the anti-Morsi ‘Rebel’ petition. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 5/26/2013]

Brotherhood leader: Morsi will liberate Jerusalem
During the rule of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser, a Jewish clairvoyant predicted that three men named Mohamad would rule Egypt and that the third would liberate Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque, Muslim Brotherhood Mufti Abdel Rahman al-Barr said on Saturday. He called on all Egyptians, regardless of their profession, to consider the liberation of Palestine as their top priority. He condemned what he described as “pathetic attempts” to drive a wedge between Egyptians and Palestinians, such as accusations that Hamas has masterminded and implemented attacks in Egypt, or claims that it is at fault for the recurring fuel crises in Egypt. [Egypt Independent, 5/26/2013]

Also of Interest:
Lawyers syndicate launches campaign to ‘rebuild’ Egypt | Ahram Online
Activists protest sexual terrorism on anniversary of "Black Wednesday" | Aswat Masriya
UN launches new anti-sexual harassment initiative in Egypt | Ahram Online
Egyptian editor fined for libeling Brotherhood’s al-Erian | Ahram Online, DNE


Ethiopia starts diverting Blue Nile course on Tuesday
Ethiopia will begin on Tuesday the process of diverting the course of the Blue Nile River to continue the construction process of its Renaissance Dam, raising concerns over Egypt’s water supply.  Egyptian Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohamed Bahaa al-Din published a statement on Tuesday in response to the diversion stressing that it is just an “engineering procedure to prepare the site in order to start the construction process”. He added that Ethiopia’s diversion of the Blue Nile’s course will not stop the water flow, a statement reiterated by the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Egypt’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Mohammed Idris described Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam as a "reality" that Egypt must cope with, adding that the decision to divert the Blue Nile has been planned since November so is neither recent nor a surprise. However, Hani Raslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Water Basin department at Egypt’s al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, stated that the situation reflects an attempt by the government, and primarily Egypt’s irrigation minister to disseminate inaccurate information about the negative impact the building of the dam would have. [Aswat Masriya, DNE, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 5/28/2013]

Show us Egypt’s reforms, Kerry tells Morsi
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday again pressed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to make concrete progress on economic reforms and rights, warning continued US and global aid was at stake. Secretary Kerry urged Egypt to act swiftly on economic reforms to secure a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan, saying the measures were needed to get further aid from the U.S. Congress, an American official said. Kerry met Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for about an hour on the sidelines of an African Union summit on Saturday, discussing Syria’s civil war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, human rights in Egypt and the country’s faltering economy, the official said. The Egyptians vowed that they had taken some steps, but Kerry "said we need to be able to show Congress that you’ve taken the necessary reforms," a senior State Department official said on the sidelines of an African Union summit. [AFP/Ahram Online, Reuters, DNE, 5/26/2013]

Also of Interest:
Foreign Ministry: Egypt, Libya, Sudan cooperate to secure borders | SIS
Abu Ismail: Supporting Syrian revolution is “form of worship" | Egypt Independent
Muslim Brotherhood condemns Hezbollah | DNE
Egypt Brotherhood’s Erian accuses Palestinian Fatah of destabilizing Sinai | Ahram Online
EU welcomes pledge by Egypt for ‘open’ Internet | AFP/Ahram Online
Egypt seeks development with African countries: PM Qandil | Ahram Online
Morsi meets with Nile Basin counterparts | DNE

Photo: Egypt Presidency 

Image: Morsi-Kerry%20in%20Addis.jpg