Top News: Presidential Elections Timetable Announced; Presidential Candidates Begin Registration Monday

Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) – the judicial body overseeing the polls – announced the timetable for presidential elections on Sunday. Hopeful candidates will be able to register with the PEC from March 31 until April 20, said Anwar al-Assi, chairman of the PEC and the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).

Presidential elections timetable announced; Presidential candidates begin registration Monday
Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) – the judicial body overseeing the polls – announced the timetable for presidential elections on Sunday. Hopeful candidates will be able to register with the PEC from March 31 until April 20, said Anwar al-Assi, chairman of the PEC and the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC). The final and official list of the candidates will be announced on May 2. The election campaigns will officially kick off on May 3 and last until May 23. The first round of voting will be on May 26 and 27, after which candidates can file complaints with the PEC on May 29 May and receive a final answer on 31 May. The results of the election will be officially announced on June 5. In case of a tie, a run-off will be held on June 16 and 17, with the final results announced June 26. The presidential campaign of Popular Current founder Hamdeen Sabbahi criticized what it described as a short campaigning period. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, 3/31/2014]

Latest Baseera poll shows decline in Support for Sisi presidency
Fifty-nine percent of Egyptians are undecided about who to vote for in the upcoming presidential election, according to an opinion poll. The poll, conducted by the Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion Research (Baseera), showed 84 percent of Egyptians intend to vote in the election, while 16 percent do not. Thirty-nine percent said they would vote for former army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, down from 51 percent in an earlier poll in mid-March. People over 50 years old are more likely to say they will vote for Sisi (43 percent), than those aged 18-29 (37 percent).
[Ahram Online, DNE, 3/30/2014]

Interior minister accuses Morsi aide of espionage
The secretary of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has been accused of stealing documents and reports related to national security and attempting to smuggle them out of the country, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said on Sunday. Investigations by the National Security apparatus allege that Amin Abdel-Hamid al-Sarfy, secretary to the Islamist president, had tried to traffic the information through a cell operated by the Muslim Brotherhood, said Ibrahim. Al-Sarfy was arrested on December 17 but had left directions with his daughter as well as a Palestinian accomplice, ordering them to give the documents to Ibrahim Mohamed Helal, director of the news section in Al-Jazeera channel, located in what the interior minister on Sunday referred to as an “Arab country,” in reference to Qatar. [Ahram Online, DNE, 3/30/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Defense Minister Sobhi visits Coptic pope in first official appearance | Ahram Online
  • Prime Minister Mahlab visits New Valley governorate | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Photo of Sisi on a bike goes viral | Egypt Independent
  • Exclusive Hamdeen Sabbahi interview: The army should not be burdened by politics | Ahram Online
  • Sabbahi’s presidential campaign kicks off across Egypt | Ahram Online


Two Islamists sentenced to death for throwing youths off roof last July
Alexandria Criminal Court sentenced two men to death Saturday for throwing youths off a roof last July, two days after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster. They faced charges of manslaughter, thuggery, violence, illegal possession of weapons, and disturbing public order. The verdicts were delivered amid a heavy security presence outside the court. The defendants papers have been transferred to the office of the Grand Mufti, the country’s official authority for issuing religious edicts, as Egyptian law stipulates that all death sentences must be reviewed by the grand mufti for ratification. The convicts were arrested last July after a video showing them throwing children from the rooftop of a building in Alexandria’s district of Sidi Gaber went viral. Egyptian officials say a court in Alexandria has also sentenced thirty-three Morsi supporters to six years in prison each over clashes with opponents last December. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, AP, 3/30/2014]

Egyptian court denies bail to Al-Jazeera journalists
A Cairo criminal court adjourned the trial of a number of Al-Jazeera journalists, imprisoned on charges of aiding of being members of the Muslim Brotherhood, on Monday for the fourth time. The court denied bail for the defendants for the second time, adjourning the trial to April 10. In Monday’s session, one of the defendants, Shady Abdel-Hameed, said that the defendants were beaten for three days straight to “confess to things we didn’t do.” The court ordered three defendants be referred to forensics to investigate their claims they had been beaten. The judge also ordered the arrest of a police officer, who was supposed to deliver filmed material to the court, but failed to do so for the third week in a row. [Ahram Online, AP, 3/31/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Two Morsi officials jailed for hiding Brotherhood leader Beltagy | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya
  • Slow-moving Mubarak retrial resumes Sunday | Ahram Online
  • Beltagy, others appear in court | DNE
  • Detainees on hunger strike await renewed detention | DNE
  • Seven referred to criminal court for shooting church guard | DNE, Aswat Masriya


Egypt energy subsidy bill to rise by 10-12 percent next year
Egypt’s Finance Minister said on Sunday spending on energy subsidies next year will be 10-12 percent above the EGP 130 billion ($18.66 billion) budgeted for the current fiscal year, unless immediate reforms are made. Successive governments have stressed the importance of reducing energy subsidies, which account for more than 20 percent of state spending, but none have taken concrete steps to do so. [DNE, 3/30/2014]

Egypt minister of industry: Trade agreement with US is over
Russia is keen to cooperate with Egypt in different fields, while the potential US Free Trade Zone agreement (FTA) with Egypt is over and will not be discussed furthermore, Minister of Industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said Saturday during an interview with CBC channel. Russia has agreed to export Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Egypt, as well as fund Egypt’s wheat exports. [Cairo Post, 3/30/2014]   

Also of Interest:

  • Number of tourists visiting Egypt drops 27 percent in February 2014 | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt narrows budget deficit in eight months due to aid from Gulf countries | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt’s BOP hits highest surplus in seventeen years for Q1 in current fiscal year | Ahram Online


Five dead in Friday Cairo clashes including al-Dostour journalist
Clashes between security forces, supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and locals left five dead and eighteen injured in various districts in East Cairo Friday. According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Health, three, including Mayada Ashraf, a young reporter, were killed in Alf Maskan. A Coptic woman, Mary George, was reportedly stabbed to death by pro-Morsi supporters in the same area. An Interior Ministry said in a statement that five people were killed in clashes in Cairo, blaming the Brotherhood gunmen for the deaths. A health ministry official, who declined to be named, said at least one had died from live ammunition. The Brotherhood’s press office in London blamed security forces for shooting at what they said were peaceful protesters. Following news of Ashraf’s death, hundreds of journalists staged a sit-in on Saturday evening at the Press Syndicate to denounce what they called the targeting of journalists during field work. Press Syndicate Head Diaa Rashwan said on Saturday that the minister of interior had agreed to deliver 100 bulletproof vests for journalists who cover violent clashes, state run Al-Ahram newspaper reported on Saturday night. [Ahram Online, Reuters, 3/30/2014]

Clashes at Al-Azhar continue on Monday following death of two students
Clashes between student protesters supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and security forces entered its second day on Monday. According to MENA News Agency, Egypt’s security forces entered Al-Azhar University campus on Monday to combat “riots” caused by students supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. This comes just one day after clashes left two students dead. Police fired teargas to disperse protesting students who shouted slogans against the police and army, carrying banners saying “down with military rule.” They demanded the release of their detained classmates. In Alexandria, clashes erupted on Saturday between supporters of rival presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Police dispersed the crowds using teargas. Sabbahi supporters later withdrew while Sisi supporters continued to rally at the spot where clashes had erupted. Meanwhile, the Death Penalty Movement claimed responsibility for burning police cars across several governorates. The movement broadcast a video titled “war against the interior ministry and its leaders” showing several police cars being burned, including a car belonging to the head of the Central Security Forces in Beheira, privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 3/31/2014]

Also of Interest:


Attack on personnel carrier in Egypt’s Sinai kills soldier, injures three
An Egyptian soldier was killed on Sunday when militants attacked the bus he was driving in the town of al-’Arish in the Sinai Peninsula, the military said in a statement posted on Facebook. An army source told Reuters the bus was transporting police officers, three of whom were wounded. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Sinai-based militants have stepped up violence against the state since the army ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July, killing more than 400 soldiers and police, according to the Foreign Ministry. In Ismailiya, militants shot and killed a retired military officer on Sunday. An armed group opened fire on 45-year-old Mohamed Abdel-Salam while he was in a car in front of Al-Safa Mosque, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website. [ Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, 3/30/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Security forces arrest members of terrorist group – minister | Aswat Masriya
  • Gaza-Egypt crossing reopened after long closure | AP
  • Authorities: Terrorist cell arrested in Alexandria | Egypt Independent
  • Interior minister blames Brotherhood for ongoing violence, defends security forces | Mada Masr
  • Two policemen arrested for contacting militants in Sinai | Aswat Masriya


Egypt’s military held considerable sway over political decisions in 2013: EU annual report
A recently published European Union report called 2013  a “very challenging year” politically in Egypt, with the military holding “considerable sway over key political decisions.” The annual country progress report by the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), published Thursday, highlighted that Egypt’s new constitution, passed in January, gives a high level of autonomy to the military as it will “grant a final say” over the position of defense minister to Egypt’s army. It said no particular progress can be reported in Egypt, in relation to the country’s Action Plan with the ENP. The Action Plan purses three priorities: political reform and good governance, competitiveness and productivity of the economy, and socioeconomic progress in the development process. Freedom of assembly and press freedom, as well as the relationship between the Egyptian authorities and civil society, have deteriorated, the ENP report reads. The only positive progress in Egypt highlighted by the ENP report during 2013 was in the area of trade. [Ahram Online, DNE, 3/29/2014]

Secretary Kerry speaks with Fahmy on the phone  
Egypt’s foreign affairs ministry announced that United States Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy on Saturday. According to a released statement, Kerry sought to clarify Egypt’s stance on peace talks between Israel and Palestine. A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Fahmy “stress[ed] the importance of establishing a Palestinian state in accordance with all relevant United Nations decisions and references.” Fahmy also clarified the implementation of the Egyptian post-3 July roadmap. [DNE, 3/29/2014

Also of Interest:

  • Israel-Egypt: Peace treaty not peace | Ahram Online
  • Fahmy to represent Egypt in fourth EU-African Summit | DNE
  • Egypt should adhere to democratic road map: White House | DNE
  • Fifty-three nations pledge support for Egypt’s ‘war against terrorism’ | DNE
  • Hamas denies plans to assassinate Sisi | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt abstains from calling Crimea referendum invalid | DNE