Top News: Second Judging Panel Withdraws from Brotherhood Trial

A second panel of judges has withdrawn from the trial of Muslim Brotherhood leaders accused of inciting the killing of protesters. The defendants refused to recognize the court, dubbed it “void” and “illegitimate,” and chanted “down with the military rule.” 


Hamdeen Sabbahi plans presidential run
Hamdeen Sabbahi, who came third in last year’s presidential poll, has said he will stand again in elections expected in summer 2014. In an interview on Tuesday with private satellite channel CBC, Sabbahi said political movements and parties would back one “revolutionary” candidate. Sabbahi said he would prefer army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who led the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, to stick to military matters, but he would respect political forces if they wanted him to stand for president. Sabbahi had earlier said he would back a presidential bid by Sisi, who was a “popular hero.” [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 12/11/2013]


Second judging panel withdraws from Brotherhood trial
A second panel of judges has withdrawn from the trial of Muslim Brotherhood leaders accused of inciting the killing of protesters. The defendants refused to recognize the court, dubbed it “void” and “illegitimate,” and chanted “down with the military rule.” The judges said they were unable to conduct the trial properly. Nineteen defendants are accused of inciting the murder of nine protesters who stormed the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters on June 30. The investigation says Muslim Brotherhood leaders held a secret meeting on June 26 in which they agreed to entrust armed groups to protect the Brotherhood headquarters because ousted President Mohamed Morsi sent word that security or military forces would not be available to do so. These armed groups, who were allegedly promised minor pilgrimage trips after the crisis, later fired at demonstrators without regard to the number of deaths, according to prosecution. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), Aswat Masriya (Arabic), AP, 12/11/2013]  

Strong Egypt files lawsuit to halt referendum while demanding voting guarantees
Ibrahim Hamamy, member of the Strong Egypt Party political bureau, said the party has decided to file a lawsuit against the 50-member constitutional committee to halt the referendum on the draft constitution. Hamamy argued the committee violated the constitutional declaration, by not abiding by the duration specified in the constitutional declaration to conclude its work in 60 days or less. At the same time, the Strong Egypt Party has also called on the high electoral committee to ensure the upcoming constitution referendum is free and fair. The committee should allow political parties, and local and international civil society organizations to monitor the vote, the party said in a statement on Monday. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 12/10/2013]

Also of Interest:
Dostour Party condemns boycotting the referendum | DNE


Egypt’s budget deficit hits $10.8 billion in Jul-Oct 2013: Report
Egypt’s budget deficit registered EGP 74.5 billion ($10.8 billion) in the first four months of the current fiscal year 2013/14, representing 3.6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the Finance Ministry’s latest monthly statistical report. The government recorded a budget deficit worth some EGP 69.6 billion ($10.1 billion) during the same period of the last fiscal year 2012/13. The report added that the total budget deficit for the fiscal year 2013/14 is expected to reach some EGP 186 billion ($27 billion), the equivalent of 9 percent of the GDP, compared to 14 percent – EGP 240 billion ($34.8 billion) – in the fiscal year 2012/13. According to the ministerial report, the state saw revenues worth some EGP 82 billion ($12 billion) against EGP 154.8 billion ($22.4 billion) in expenses within the period July to October 2013. [Ahram Online, 12/9/2013]

Also of Interest:
Canals proposed to end Egypt’s water shortage | DNE
Egypt saw 20 percent monthly rise in November’s tourists: Report | Ahram Online
CBE offers 137th tender of US$40 million for auction | Egypt Independent
Shares gain EGP 1.4 billion in middle of trading Egypt Independent,
CAPMAS: Prices of commodities went up by 0.9 percent in November | SIS


Court may return police to campuses as 36 are injured in Tuesday clashes
The Administrative Court was to review a case requesting the return of university guards to campuses Tuesday. The review comes amid worsening university unrest and a heavy police response, including the arrest of more than 100 students. Al-Azhar University’s council has already requested a police presence on campus to secure the grounds. Thirty-six people were injured during clashes between students and police at several Egyptian universities on Tuesday, the health ministry has said. The toll resulted from violence in three governorates: Cairo, Giza and Fayoum, the health ministry added. Meanwhile, on Wednesday security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at a demonstration by dozens of pro-Muslim Brotherhood female Al-Azhar University students in Nasr City. Al-Azhar University male campus and dorms remained calm and void of protests amidst a heavy security presence in anticipation of more clashes between students and security forces. At Cairo University, The dean of the Faculty of Engineering submitted his resignation to the university’s president on Wednesday, along with his deputies. After deciding to suspend classes indefinitely, the fall semester at the Faculty will end on Wednesday due to the ongoing protests, over a month earlier than usual. [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Ahram Gate (Arabic), Aswat Masriya (Arabic), Aswat Masriya, EGYNews (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 12/11/2013]

Amnesty highlights human rights violations in Egypt’s draft constitution
The draft constitution, prepared by the fifty-member Constituent Assembly and waiting on popular approval in referendum to pass, falls short of Egypt’s international human rights obligations despite fixing some deficiencies in the 2012 constitution, Amnesty International said. The international human rights watchdog criticized the new draft of Egypt’s constitution for giving the military sweeping powers. Amnesty doubted that with the excessive autonomy the draft grants the military, real transitional justice, as addressed in the draft, could be implemented. The group also criticized one of the most contentious articles in the constitution. The article, initially introduced in the 2012 constitution, allows civilians to be tried in military courts. And although the amendments limit the cases to direct attacks on military installations or personnel, it considers factories, petrol stations and clubs owned by the military to be army institutions and “leaves the door open for the ‘law’ to determine other possible crimes falling under the jurisdiction of military courts.” [DNE, Ahram Online, 12/10/2013]

Also of Interest:
Rights groups demand Egypt probe killings of Morsi supporters | Egypt Independent, Reuters, Mada Masr


Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes leaders flee amid crackdown
Security sources claimed ten leaders of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes, a radical Islamist militant group based in Sinai, fled to Gaza and Marsa Matrouh province amid a crackdown that killed two of the group’s leaders, according to al-Masry al-Youm newspaper Tuesday. [Mada Masr, 12/10/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt security forces begin to release detained Syrian refugees | Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters


The success of Egypt’s transition relies on respect for human rights: US congresswoman
The success of Egypt’s democratic transition relies on respect for human rights, upholding the rule of law, and protecting civil society, a US congresswoman said on Tuesday. Egypt witnessed a steady increase in human rights abuses by the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said. “There was a precipitous increase in the arrests of journalists, a widespread crackdown on opposition demonstrators, wanton disrespect for the rule of law, and an overall deteriorating state of human rights throughout Egypt,” she said. Ros-Lehtinen made the remarks at a joint subcommittee hearing on human rights abuses in Egypt on Tuesday. [Ahram Online, 12/11/2013]

Russia to provide Egypt with military hardware, says Putin’s envoy
Russia’s envoy to Africa Mikhail Margelov has declared that Egypt and Russia will resume their technical military cooperation. In a Wednesday speech at London’s Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs), Margelov said Egypt and Russia will set a legal basis for the resumption and that Russia will import military hardware at costs of US$2 billion. Margelov expressed his country’s readiness to resume cooperation with the Arab Spring countries, the Russian Ria Novosti news agency reported. He added that Russia and Egypt decided to resume the work of the Joint Ministerial Committee for Economic Cooperation. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 12/11/2013]

Also of Interest:
Sisi meets with US Central Command chief | Egypt Independent, SIS, Tahrir (Arabic)

Image: Photo: Saad al-Katatny (Ikhwanweb)