Top News: Public Lynchings Indicate ‘Death of the State’: Egypt Justice Minister

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Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki on Sunday slammed the public lynching of two men accused of theft in Egypt’s Gharbiya governorate, describing the incident as a sign of "the death of the state."


Public lynchings indicate ‘death of the state’: Egypt justice minister
Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki on Sunday slammed the public lynching of two men accused of theft in Egypt’s Gharbiya governorate, describing the incident as a sign of "the death of the state." "The government that allows this to happen is an unjust government, because it does not afford citizens with adequate protection," said Mekki. Egyptian vigilantes beat two men accused of stealing a motorized rickshaw on Sunday and then hung them by their feet while some in a watching crowd chanted "kill them!" Both men died, security officials said. Security forces were unable to arrive on the scene on time, as eyewitnesses reported a near-complete paralysis on the roads due to a protest against the rising cost of fuel. [Ahram Online, AP, DNE, Aswat Masriya/Reuters, 3/18/2013]

Shura Council to divide constituencies by number of voters
Following a legislative committee meeting Sunday, the Shura Council is inclined to approve a proposal submitted to it by Ihab al-Kharrat, chairperson of the human rights committee, to divide electoral constituencies according to the number of voters, not population. Administrative Development Ministry representative Ahmed Kamal said the margin of error in Kharrat’s proposal is 7 percent, which is better than the 9 percent found in the challenged elections law, because the voters database is derived from maps, not addresses. [Egypt Independent, 3/17/2013]

NSF: We are not flirting with the army; we still reject dialogue with presidency
The National Salvation Front, the biggest liberal opposition bloc, denied news that it has accepted invitations to engage in dialogue with political powers and the presidency.
Ahmed Hassan al-Borai, a spokesperson with the NSF, told the Turkish Anadolu News Agency on Sunday that the group has no intention to sit at the negotiating table with the president. Social Democratic Egyptian Party Chief Mohamed Abul Ghar, a leading member with the opposition coalition National Salvation Front, said the front is not flirting with the army and does not want military intervention. The only exception would be a civil war, he said, in which case the military would then step in to protect vital institutions. [Egypt Independent, 3/17/2013]

Also of Interest:
Abul-Fotouh condemns Morsi ‘failures’, demands early presidential elections | Ahram Online, DNE
Popular Alliance to push for female quota in parliament | Aswat Masriya
Govt attempts to settle dispute between energy ministries | Egypt Independent
ElBaradei praises UN declaration fighting violence against women | Ahram Online
Egypt rejects all forms of violence against women: Presidency | Ahram Online
Abu Ismail’s calls FJP and Nour to join Islamist Nation Alliance, will not leave streets to the opposition | Egypt Independent, Ahram Online


Court delays ruling on election law
The Supreme Administrative postponed until March 24 its consideration of a challenge by the State Lawsuits Authority — representing the presidency, the Shura Council and the High Elections Commission — to an Administrative Court ruling that put parliamentary elections on hold. In related news, Egypt’s office of state commissioners, a judicial body responsible for issuing non-binding recommendations on cases to the courts, called for the rejection of the appeal filed by the presidency and the Shura Council against the decision to halt the parliamentary elections. [Egypt Independent, DNE, Reuters, Ahram Online, 3/17/2013]

Also of Interest:
Public Prosecutor bans 21 businessmen from travel | Egypt Independent
Former ministers cleared of involvement in Hurghada illegal land acquisitions | Egypt Independent
Court accepts appeal by former interior minister | Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
‘Bible-burning’ Islamist preacher referred to Cairo Criminal Court | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya


IMF delegation leaves Cairo after ‘constructive’ loan talks
An International Monetary Fund [IMF] delegation left Cairo on Monday morning after day-long talks with the Egyptian government over a $4.8 billion loan which both parties portrayed as positive. Discussions were based on a revised economic programme, suggested by the government, which involves more gradual measures to tackle Egypt’s budget deficit than the programme it presented to the fund last November. The revised programme will "preserve growth rates, jobs, and protect the poor," the Egyptian government said. At the same time, government spokesman Alaa al-Hadidi said the talks did not produce agreement on anything specific, but paved the way for the arrival of an IMF technical team soon. In related news,  Egypt rejected any link between stalled parliamentary elections and its drive to secure a loan from the IMF as it struggles with a budget and foreign currency crisis. [Ahram Online, AP, Reuters, 3/18/2013]

Egypt tries to lure foreign investment to finance state debt
Egypt opened a scheme on Sunday allowing foreign investors in its financial markets access to dollars despite a hard currency shortage, a move which analysts said aimed to attract external funding for the soaring state budget deficit. The central bank said it was restarting a mechanism helping foreign investors to repatriate their funds that was last used in 2000-2003 – also a period of dollar shortages when the Egyptian pound’s value fell sharply.[Ahram Online/Reuters, 3/17/2013]

Bakery owners storm Supply Ministry, protest planned reduction of flour subsidies
Hundreds of Egyptian bakery owners on Saturday blocked Cairo’s Qasr Al-Aini Street near the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade to protest government plans to reduce flour subsidies. Hundreds of bakery owners stormed the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade building on Qasr al-Ain Street downtown Cairo demanding to meet with the minister Bassem Kamal. On Thursday, the supply ministry announced that it would continue to subsidise bread loaves, but not flour – which would henceforth be sold to bakeries at market prices. The move means that prices paid by bakeries for a 100-kilogram bag of flour would rise from LE16 to LE286. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 3/17/2013]

Also of Interest:
Tourist numbers up 10.2 percent in January 2013: CAPMAS Ahram Online
Rising fuel costs mean Egypt’s salad days are over Ahram Online


Egypt military warns of potential impersonation of security personnel
The military has started an investigation over fabric it says it seized in a tunnel to Gaza to find out why the fabric was smuggled, where it was being taken and how it would impact national security, a military source in North Sinai Governorate said. A military spokesperson had said earlier Sunday that the Armed Forces seized fabric printed with patterns similar to security forces’ uniforms, warning people to be aware, in case the fabric is used to impersonate security personnel. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 3/17/2013]

Hamas denies involvement in Rafah massacre
A Hamas leader has denied the reports on the involvement of elements belonging to the group in the attack on Egyptian soldiers in Rafah last year.An investigative report published in Al-Ahram magazine accused figures associated with Hamas of the killing of 16 border guards in Rafah July 2012, in what was a massive attack on Egypt’s Armed Forces. [Egypt Independent, AP, 3/17/2013]

Jama’a al-Islamiya calls on parties to mull civilian security
The Construction and Development Party, Jama’a al-Islamiya’s political arm, called on all political parties Sunday to find ways to use popular committees to restore security, which police have been unable to do, rather than asking the army to fulfill that task. The group’s statement said popular committees must operate within the law and the Shura Council’s consent, be formed from all spectrums of the Egyptian people as opposed to a single faction, and be controlled by regulations to help police without committing excesses. The party is also expanding its “popular committees” to Egypt’s southernmost governorate, Aswan. [Egypt Independent, DNE, 3/17/2013]

Also of Interest:
January death toll in Egypt’s Port Said reaches 48 | Ahram Online, DNE
383 children arrested in Egypt since uprising anniversary – ECCR | Aswat Masriya


Brotherhood critics elected to Journalist Syndicate board
Head of the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Diaa Rashwan won the seat of the head of the Journalists Syndicate in elections held on Friday.  “The syndicate stood against repression,” he said after the votes were counted. “And oppressive regimes have fallen while the syndicate is still here.” Rashwan got more than 50 percent of the votes, beating the other main frontrunner, Abdel Mohsen Salama, the managing editor of Al-Ahram newspaper. On Sunday, Egyptian journalists held protests condemning attacks on journalists outside the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters the previous day. Dozens of journalists, backed by Rashwan, converged at the syndicate building in downtown Cairo on Sunday afternoon.
[Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 3/17/2013]

Clashes at Muslim Brotherhood headquarters
Police dispersed a gathering of around 300 demonstrators in front of the Muslim Brotherhood’s main headquarters in Moqattam Sunday. The demonstrators had gathered in protest of clashes that occurred Saturday when Muslim Brotherhood youth attacked a group of graffiti artists painting near the Brotherhood’s building as well as assaulted accompanying journalists covering the event. Public Prosecutor Talaat Abdallah issued a summons on Monday for three guards of Khairat al-Shater, Deputy Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, together with  the detention of 15 people Sunday for alleged involvement in clashes. The General Secretary of the Muslim Brotherhood Mahmoud Hussein blamed the media for exaggerating the attacks on protesters at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters on Saturday, while Egyptian opposition parties condemned attacks on protesters and journalists at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters on Saturday and Sunday. Commenting on a widely-circulating photo depicting a female activist being slapped in the face allegedly by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood near the party headquarters, Nour Party described it as “disgraceful” and “unjustified,” describing the act both as a violation of Sharia laws and chivalry. Calm returned to the area outside the headquarters a day after clashes broke out. [DNE, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 3/17/2013]

Morsi visits Sohag amid public frustration
President Mohamed Morsi arrived in Sohag on Saturday morning with Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and other high level Cairo officials. The visit was intended to key in on developmental challenges in Upper Egyptian governorates and focus on improving the government services provided to Upper Egyptians. The president’s visit to Sohag was met by demonstrations in different parts of the city, and supporters and detractors of the president reportedly clashed with Central Security Forces (CSF) whom intervened with teargas. [DNE,  Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 3/16/2013]

Also of Interest:
Poll shows 82% in Egypt want army to return to power | Aswat Masriya
Microbus strike brings Mahalla to standstill | Ahram Online
Ramlet Boulaq residents reject police violence and government attempts to evict them |  DNE


Libyan embassy suspends work in Cairo after protest, ambassador promises investigat
ion into church attack
The Libyan embassy in Cairo on Saturday suspended work for security reasons, days after Egyptians protested in front of the building over the death of an Egyptian Copt in Libya. On Thursday unknown assailants set an Egyptian Coptic church in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi ablaze, the second attack on the building in weeks. Gunmen had previously attacked it, assaulting two priests. Following a meeting with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, Libyan ambassador Ashour Hamid bin Rashid promised that an investigation would be put in place to bring the perpetrators to justice. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 3/17/2013]

Morsi begins Pakistan-India tour
President Mohamed Morsi arrived in Pakistan on Monday for an official one-day visit, a statement from the presidency said. Morsi is scheduled to meet several high-ranking members of Pakistan’s government, including President Asif Ali Zadari and the chairman of Pakistan’s Committee on Defence and National Security. [DNE, Ahram Online, 3/18/2013]

Also of Interest:
Hamas’s Meshaal meets with Brotherhood Supreme Guide in Cairo | Ahram Online
Egypt made progress in democratic transition, Haddad tells EU | Ahram Online

Photo: Morsi receiving an honorary doctorate in Pakistan (Egypt Presidency)

Image: Morsi%20Pakistan.jpg