Top News: Presidential Campaign Period Begins; Salafi Nour Party backs Sisi

Saturday marked the first official day of campaigning for Egypt’s only two candidates vying for the presidency, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Presidential campaign period begins; Salafi Nour Party backs Sisi
Saturday marked the first official day of campaigning for Egypt’s only two candidates vying for the presidency, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sabbahi launched his campaign in the Upper Egyptian city of Assiut on Saturday, and highlighted various points of his electoral platform, including solar energy, foreign policy, and ways to combat corruption. In his first national address on state television on Saturday Sabbahi vowed to scrap the protest law and release political prisoners. On Saturday, Sisi’s campaign launched its official website and met with members of the media, where he explained that the core of his platform’s projects are based on social justice and a reliance on major national projects that provide many job opportunities. He is scheduled to appear Monday in his first ever TV interview co-hosted by Egyptian media figures Ibrahim Eissa and Lamees al-Hadidi. As more parties announce their support for individual candidates, the Nour, Tagamoa and Conference parties announced their support for Sisi to be Egypt’s next president. Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II said on Sunday that the church would not support either candidate in the country’s upcoming presidential race. Finally, a poll conducted by Egyptian polling centre, Baseera showed 72 percent of respondents backing Sisi while only two percent backed Sabbahi. Twenty-two percent were undecided, three percent refused to respond and one percent said they would nullify their vote. [DNE, 5/5/2014]

Political rights committee chooses mixed system for parliamentary elections
Egypt’s parliamentary elections will be held using  the mixed electoral system, combining individual candidates and party lists, the political rights law committee spokesperson said on Sunday. Judge Mahmoud Fazwy added that the date of parliamentary polls in Egypt will be decided by the committee. “The parliamentary election will be called for by the committee and not the president. This will ensure full judicial supervision of the election from beginning to end,” Judge Mahmoud Fawzy said. “The High Constitutional Court made it clear that the president should not interfere in the election process.” The parliamentary election should be held within six months of the passing of the new constitution. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 5/5/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Parties and civil society organizations decry marginalization of women in country’s transition | DNE
  • Aswan tribes commit to peace following bloody clashes that killed twenty-six | DNE


Egypt court sentences 102 Morsi supporters to ten years prison
Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Saturday 102 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to ten years in prison, and two others to seven years, on charges of murder and rioting. The defendants were arrested last July following a protest in Cairo’s al-Zaher district, after the ouster of Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood. They were also charged with attempted murder, inciting murder, threatening violence, and sabotaging private and public property. The protests led to the killing of Ahmed Salah al-Bassiouny, for which the defendants were accused of murder. Only thirty-five defendants were present in court, the others were tried in absentia. [Ahram Online, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 5/3/2014]

Judge postpones Al Jazeera journalists trial to May 15, denies bail
Cairo Criminal Court adjourned Saturday the case against twenty Al Jazeera journalists to May 15, without granting them bail. The court adjourned the session to give time for defense lawyers to examine the evidence gathered against the defendants and to form their arguments. During Saturday’s session, Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate sent a lawyer to defend Mohamed Fahmy, accused in the case. Fahmy welcomed the gesture. The prosecution provided evidence that Fahmy has been examined by a doctor for a shoulder injury sustained prior to arrest, and that he should have a total of twelve physical therapy sessions. In his brief appeal, Fahmy said he had good contacts in the Egyptian army, the police and the intelligence services. Fahmy later told journalists covering the hearing that he mentioned that because of prosecutors previously showing a picture of Fahmy standing by Morsi. He said there were pictures of him with other veteran politicians that the court did not show. Australian journalist Peter Greste described his ordeal as a “massive injustice,” after spending more than four months in jail. [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, 5/3/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Morsi incitement trial adjourned to Sunday | Ahram Online, DNE, DNE, Egypt Independent
  • Egypt’s Appeals Court upholds three year sentence for ‘eye-sniper’ | Ahram Online
  • Judge releases student to compete in Intel science competition | DNE
  • Cabinet clashes trial postponed to May 11 | DNE
  • Trial of Egyptian journalist Abdallah El-Shamy adjourned forty-five days | Ahram Online
  • US citizen, three others arrested for harbouring street children | DNE, Mada Masr

IMF’s Lagarde: Economic reforms a ‘must’ for Egypt growth
Economic reforms will be necessary for Egypt to see renewed growth and investment, according to IMF chief Christine Lagarde. Lagarde said that “the relationship with Egypt is not broken,” citing on-going technical assistance programs. The IMF chief did acknowledge progress, citing action taken on energy subsidy reform as “encouraging”. [DNE, 5/3/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Egypt announces plans to revive flagging tourism sector | Reuters
  • Egypt stocks start week in green, ignoring weekend bombings | Ahram Online
  • Doctors’ Syndicate supports lawsuit blocking coal as a fuel source | DNE
  • Electricity Ministry: Load in critical condition | Egypt Independent, Mada Masr
  • One fatality in southern Cairo building collapse | Mada Masr


Student groups announce ‘Black Week’ of protests
A group of student bodies released a joint statement late Saturday calling on the government to stop “antagonizing the people”. They also announced a number of upcoming protests decrying human rights violations at universities, and calling on the government to allow detained students to take their exams on time. The student bodies have dubbed the protests, which will take place next week, “Black Week for Universities,” On the same day Al-Azhar University expelled seventy-six students from different faculties for “involvement in riots,” Egyptian state news agency MENA reported. Last Thursday, Cairo University President Gaber Nasser announced that he will ban 173 students who allegedly took part in campus political protests from taking end of semester exams, according to according to state-owned Al-Ahram. Meanwhile, students at the American University in Cairo (AUC) have continued to protest the five-year prison sentences handed to their colleagues Abdallah Ghandour and Abdel Rahman Boghdady last Tuesday after they were detained during a demonstration in Nasr City in December. [DNE, Mada Masr, Ahram Online, 5/4/2014]

Also of Interest:


Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claims responsibility for Sinai suicide bombings
A radical Islamist group claimed responsibility on Sunday for two suicide bombings which killed a soldier and wounded at least eight other people near the Egyptian tourist city of Sharm al-Sheikh on Friday. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the most active of the militant groups waging an insurgency against the army-backed government since it deposed elected leader Mohamed Morsi last summer, made the claim in a statement posted online. Attacks in the Sinai continued Sunday when a retired army officer was shot dead by unknown assailants in Northern Sinai’s Arish on Sunday, security sources said. The security sources told Aswat Masriya that the retired officer was shot in his neck, which caused his death promptly. In related news, a car bomb detonated late Friday night near Ramses square in Cairo, leaving one dead. [Ahram Online, Reuters, DNE, Mada Masr, 5/4/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Three policemen injured in shooting in Cairo’s Helwan | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt seeking alternative sources for police armament | DNE
  • Interior Minister: Comprehensive plan to secure presidential elections in coordination with the army | Egypt Independent
  • In search of security | Mada Masr


British foreign secretary criticizes detention of journalists in Egypt
In statements made marking World Press Freedom Day, British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the detention of journalists in Egypt, including twenty Al Jazeera staff whose trial resumed Saturday. “I am deeply concerned by the harassment and detention of journalists in Egypt, including the twenty Al Jazeera staff,” Hague said. Several local and international NGOs also expressed their concern over the treatment of journalists in Egypt. [Ahram Online, 5/3/2014]

Egypt looks to secure US relationship on new terms
The foreign ministry stressed on Friday the importance of “equality and non-interference” in regards to Egypt’s relationship with the United States in the wake of Nabil Fahmy’s visit. Fahmy and US Secretary of State John Kerry had a “full [and] frank” discussion “to confront the problems of the relationship” between Egypt and the US, according to a foreign ministry statement providing details of the minister’s US visit. The pair talked about the “need for a vision and different style in dealing with the outstanding issues to create the climate for a future relationship based on mutual respect and parity in the deal.” During a television interview with al-Tahrir, Fahmy described how Egypt and the United States view violence in Egypt differently. According to Fahmy, the United States still uses the term “violence” and not “terrorism” when it describes the Muslim Brotherhood’s actions, adding that this was a point of contention in his recent visit. He added that the United States believes Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis to be behind the violence in Egypt and not the Muslim Brotherhood. [DNE, 5/3/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Foreign ministry eases restrictions for voters abroad | DNE, SIS
  • Al-Qaeda says US colluded with Egypt in ‘coup’ | Ahram Online