Top News: Interim Housing Minister Tasked with Forming New Egyptian Government

Ibrahim Mehleb has been asked to form a new government by interim President Adly Mansour, he told Al-Ahram Arabic news website on Tuesday. Mehleb, who resigned as housing minister on Monday, said he would immediately start consultations on the appointment of a new cabinet. The former member of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) and ex-chairman of Arab Contractors, one of the region’s leading construction companies, will succeed Hazem El-Beblawy as prime minister, according to Ahram Online.


Interim housing minister tasked with forming new Egypt government
Ibrahim Mehleb has been asked to form a new government by interim President Adly Mansour, he told Al-Ahram Arabic news website on Tuesday. Mehleb, who resigned as housing minister on Monday, said he would immediately start consultations on the appointment of a new cabinet. The former member of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) and ex-chairman of Arab Contractors, one of the region’s leading construction companies, will succeed Hazem El-Beblawy as prime minister, according to Ahram Online. Hours after Egypt’s interim Beblawy appeared on state-run TV and announced the resignation of his entire cabinet, interim President Adly Mansour issued a statement accepting the end of the ministers’ tenure. [Ahram Online, Reuters, Mada Masr, Tahrir (Arabic), EGYNews (Arabic), 2/25/2014]

Also of Interest:
Presidential hopeful Sabbahy fears return to autocracy | Egypt Independent
Nour Party calls for “peaceful strike” law | EGYNews (Arabic)
Tamarod spokesperson: the movement officially began a part of the campaign for Sisi | AMAY (Arabic)


Strong Egypt members sentenced to three years prison for anti-referendum campaign
A Cairo misdemeanour court sentenced in absentia on Tuesday three Strong Egypt Party members to three years in prison and an EGP 500 fine for hanging posters calling for a ‘No’ vote on the now-passed 2012 amended constitution. Charged with disturbing public peace and distributing flyers, the party members were arrested early January while handing out leaflets calling for a ‘No’ vote ahead of the constitution referendum held on January 14-15. Strong Egypt Party Spokesman Ahmed Emam told Ahram Online that the verdict is against freedom of expression and contradicts liberties granted by the passed constitution. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 2/25/2014]

Prosecutor refers over 500 Morsi supporters to Cairo criminal court; Alexandria court sentences 219 to prison
Egypt’s prosecutor general referred on Monday 504 supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi to criminal court on charges of attempted murder during last August’s protests in downtown Cairo. The defendants were arrested in mid-August during clashes at Ramses Street in downtown Cairo, that followed the bloody dispersal of the pro-Morsi camps Raba’a al-Adaweya and al-Nahda squares. According to the prosecution statement, the defendants are accused of “vandalizing Al-Fath Mosque [on Ramses Street in Cairo’s downtown] and halting prayers, killing for terrorist purposes, assembling [illegally], thuggery, vandalizing public and private properties.” An Alexandria misdemeanors court also sentenced 219 Brotherhood members to between three to eight years in prison on charges of thuggery, illegal assembly, and vandalizing public and private property.  [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 2/25/2014]

Members of social networking groups arrested for inciting violence against security forces
Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat ordered the detention of eight Brotherhood members for fifteen days pending investigations into charges of inciting organized violence against army and police personnel on social networking sites. Barakat released four other under age members, who were less than 18 years old. The defendants are also charged with burning a police station and a police officer’s car, belonging to a terrorist group that attempts to disrupt the constitution and the law, preventing state institutions and public authorities from exercising work, assaulting personal freedoms and public rights, attacking facilities of the armed forces and the police and endangering the safety and security of society. [Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), 2/24/2014]

Also of Interest:
Nasr City “Terrorist Cell” case postponed to March 15 | EGYNews (Arabic)


Market reacts positively to Cabinet resignation and talk of new Prime Minister
Egypt’s main benchmark index continued its upward trend Monday, a day after it broke a resistance barrier of 8,000 points for the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis. The EGX30 index ended the day at 8,046 points, 0.46 percent higher than Sunday’s close at 8,009. On Sunday, the market had surged on the back of buying from investment funds and foreign institutional investors, garnering a total of LE5.8 billion in gains. Overall market capitalization reached LE491 billion. Meanwhile, the broader EGX70 reached 665 points, its highest peak on record. Despite Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy’s announcement early Monday that his government has resigned, the market continued making gains, suggesting that investors regarded the news positively. [Mada Masr, 2/24/2014]

Also of Interest:
Moody’s says Egypt banking sector outlook still negative | DNE, Egypt Independent
Finance minister provides Public Transport Authority with EGP 15.2 million | DNE
Egypt’s bread ‘smart cards’: financial miracle for age-old problem? | Reuters
Increase in power deficit to 3,000 megawatts due to fuel shortage | Shorouk (Arabic)


Rights group files complaint against Reuters for Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes story

A rights group has filed a complaint against Reuters, accusing the British wire agency of propagandizing for a terrorist group, the privately owned ONA news agency reported on Monday. Diaa al-Din al-Garhy, executive head of the Justice Center for Freedoms, wrote in the complaint that Reuters threatened Egypt’s national security and harmed tourism by publishing a story about the Sinai-based Jihad group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes. The complaint was filed with Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat. [Mada Masr, Shorouk (Arabic), 2/24/2014]

Also of Interest:
Police return to Egypt universities sparks alarm among some | Ahram Online
Cairo governor: 1,200 minibuses to cover for transport workers’ strike | Ahram Online
ANHRI condemns continuing detention of journalist arrested on revolution anniversary | DNE
Workers strikes continue despite Cabinet criticism | DNE
What happened at St. Catherine? | Mada Masr
Friday sermons: All together now? | Mada Masr
Transport strike enters fourth day | EGYNews (Arabic)


One dead, one injured in attacks on security forces in Sharqiya
A policeman was shot in the head by unknown assailants while on his way home in Sharqiya’s Zagazig on Monday, reported the Al-Ahram Arabic website. Abdel-Rahman Abu El-Ela, 32, was killed in a drive-by shooting by two gunmen on a motorcycle who managed to flee the scene. Unidentified attackers also shot at a military colonel in Sharqiya, state run EgyNews reported on Tuesday.  Essam Mohamed al-Mahalawy, a colonel in the Armed Forces, was walking back to his village, near Zagazig, the capital city of Sharqiya, when attackers on a motorbike fired at him. He was immediately transferred to hospital and is in stable condition. Since the beginning of February, at least fourteen security personnel including one army officer have been targeted in drive-by shootings in Sharqiya. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 2/25/2014]

Army kills alleged Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis member, destroys ‘field hospital’ in Sinai
The armed forces posted a statement on their official Facebook page Monday claiming the killing of an alleged Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis member, as well as the destruction of a field hospital they said was used by Al-Qaeda-inspired militants in North Sinai. According to the statement, the field hospital was found during raids on a number of suspected “dens and outposts.” The field hospital was said to contain a room for surgical operations, surgical instruments, as well as anesthetics and medical solutions. The army also said it had found medical equipment such as oxygen cylinders and a refrigerator to store blood for transfusions. The field hospital was destroyed after its discovery. [DNE, 2/25/2014]

Also of Interest:
Twelve tunnels destroyed in Rafah; Drug smuggling efforts thwarted in Ismalia | AMAY (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), Ahram Gateway (Arabic)


Seven Egyptian Christians found shot execution-style on Libyan beach
Seven Egyptians were shot dead in the Libyan capital of Benghazi by unknown assailants on Monday, security sources told the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA). The seven bodies were handcuffed when they were found. They were found shot dead on a beach in eastern Libya after they were abducted from their apartments, security officials and local residents said, in the second such execution-style killing this year. The ambulance that transferred the deceased to the medical center was attacked in a drive-by shooting, the state-owned news site EgyNews reported. The driver and one medic were injured in the attack. EgyNews reported that the Foreign Ministry has released the names of those killed. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has held intensive contacts with Libya’s officials and tribal chiefs over the killing of seven Egyptian Copts east of Libya, a statement by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said. Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church and the Salafi Nour Party, condemned the killings calling for a swift investigation into the matter. Al-Azhar also condemned the killing of unarmed Egyptians in Libya and expressed confidence in the Libyan government in its ability to protect Egyptians. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) issued a statement, calling on Egyptian authorities to communicate with their Libyan counterparts to protect Egyptians living in Libya in light of the unstable security there. [Reuters, Mada Masr, DNE, 2/25/2014]

US says resignation of Egypt cabinet unexpected
The United States said on Monday it was surprised by the resignation of Egypt’s government and would continue to push for a transition process that led to a democratically elected government in the country. “This step was unexpected, so we are looking to obtain information on it,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a regular news briefing. “Our focus … remains on pressing and encouraging Egypt to take steps forward that will advance an inclusive transition process that leads to a democratic civilian-led government selected through a credible and transparent elections process,” Psaki said. The spokeswoman said Washington was watching the situation closely and reaching out to its Egyptian counterparts for details. The cabinet had come under intensifying pressure in recent months amid an imploding economy, terrorist attacks and labor unrest. [Reuters, Ahram Online, 2/24/2014]

Also of Interest:
Russian military delegation arrives in Cairo | Egypt Independent
Saudi Arabia releases most arrested Egyptian fishermen; Four likely to be charged | Ahram Online, DNE
Kuwaiti foreign minister meets with El-Beblawy, Sisi in Cairo | DNE
Ethiopia accuses Egypt of being responsible for the halt in negotiations on the Renaissance Dam | AMAY (Arabic)