Top News: Shura Council Accuses SCC of Undermining Lawmakers


Members of the Shura Council accused the Supreme Constitutional Court on Tuesday of undermining lawmakers following its rejection of several elections law articles governing parliamentary polls.  


Shura Council accuses SCC of undermining lawmakers
Members of the Shura Council accused the Supreme Constitutional Court on Tuesday of undermining lawmakers following its rejection of several elections law articles governing parliamentary polls. The five articles were sent back to the Shura Council, which has been tasked to make amendments and ensure the elections process is, in fact, constitutional. “It is interfering in the work of the legislative authority,” said legislative committee member Gamal Gibril. [Egypt Independent, 2/19/2013]

Sexual harassment bill promises harsher penalties

The Justice Ministry is preparing a draft law to counter sexual harassment in workplaces and domestic situations in accordance with international standards, according to a ministry official. State-run al-Akhbar newspaper quoted Omar al-Sherif, assistant justice minister for legislation, as saying that the main purpose of the law is to stop sexual harassment stemming from the exploitation of administrative authority or a certain position in the family. The announcement comes amid increased media attention surrounding both the harassment and violent sexual assaults that have taken place during protests. [Egypt Independent, 2/20/2013]

Nour Party says will not seek election partners
The Nour Party is not seeking an alliance to contest upcoming parliamentary elections, senior member Salah Abdel Maboud told al-Hayat satellite channel Tuesday, but it would only consider doing so with Islamist groups.  “Nour Party will only ally with Islamist parties and we will field candidates in all constituencies in the coming election," he said, amid much speculation over how alliances will play out in the next vote. His comments follow a recent announcement by conservative Islamist group Jama’a al-Islamiya that its political party would not include the Nour Party or the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in its alliance. [Egypt Independent, Al Jazeera (Arabic), 2/20/2013]

NSF to reject unfair parliamentary elections
The National Salvation Front said Tuesday it will reject parliamentary elections unless authorities guarantee they will be fair and subject to international monitoring. The announcement came after a three-hour closed meeting that included Dostour chief Mohamed ElBaradei, Wafd Party leader Al-Sayed al-Badawi and Freedom and Justice Party Chairman Saad al-Katatni. Hamdeen Sabbahi, founder of the Popular Current Party, did not attend. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 2/19/2013]

Also of Interest:
Popular Current to boycott parliamentary elections | Egypt Independent, Ahram Online
National Committee for Int’l Humanitarian Law formed under Justice Minister | SIS
Morsi meets Jama’a al-Islamiya leaders Tuesday | Egypt Independent
Abdallah al-Ashaal appointed secretary general of NCHR | DNE
Heated discussions during the review of Shura redistricting | EGYNews (Arabic)
ElBaradei condemns police torture under Morsi’s rule | Ahram Online
Brotherhood leader: Stripped Egyptian protester is a ‘thug’ | Ahram Online  
Presidency appoints Omar Amer and Ehab Moustafa as spokespersons | Ahram Online, AMAY (Arabic)


Egyptian prosecution to ask Interpol for arrest of ex-PM Shafiq
The prosecutor-general’s official spokesperson Mostafa Dowidar stated on Tuesday’s evening that Talaat Abdullah, the prosecutor-general, has ordered his office to prepare a memo for Interpol, in order to arrest Ahmed Shafiq, former presidential candidate and former prime minister under Hosni Mubarak. Earlier, Shafiq said he was not astonished by the prosecutor general’s decision to refer him to criminal court on corruption allegations. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 2/20/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian court orders return of ‘bearded policemen’ to duties | Ahram Online
Supreme Judicial Council will consider lifting Zend’s immunity next week | Shorouk (Arabic)


Egypt state grain buyer steps aside as currency reserves fall
One of the most powerful figures on the global wheat market, Nomani Nomani, said on Wednesday he has left his job as vice chairman of Egypt’s state grains buyer GASC, at a time when the country is struggling with falling foreign currency reserves. For more than three years he has overseen strategic buying for the world’s biggest importer of wheat, encompassing Egypt’s 2011 revolution and the periods of political and economic uncertainty since the fall of president Hosni Mubarak. Nomani gave no reason for his move beyond saying it was a promotion. "I got promoted to become an adviser to the minister of trade and supplies, which means that I will no longer handle the wheat bidding and buying process, starting now," Nomani told Reuters. [Reuters, 2/20/2013]

Egypt announces big fuel price rises for some industries
Egypt’s government announced new fuel prices for many sectors of the economy on Tuesday which industry sources said were 50 percent higher than previous levels, triggering protests by factory owners affected by the increase. Several hundred people employed in the brick manufacturing industry – one of the sectors affected – blocked roads in Cairo and Minya, south of the capital, to protest at the price rises, a security source said. Trains between Cairo and Alexandria and road traffic on the Agricultural Road linking the two cities were also brought to a complete stand-still on Wednesday morning by workers protesting fuel shortages.[Reuters, Ahram Online, 2/19/2013]


US military delegation arrives in Cairo to discuss security, defense
A US military delegation arrived in Cairo late Tuesday, according to state news agency MENA. The 17-member delegation will spend the next several days discussing defense issues, national security and regional developments. al-Watan newspaper quoted David Winfield, the US Embassy’s media attaché in Cairo, saying the delegation includes former commanders of the US military and does not comprise an "official" visit. [Egypt Independent, 2/19/2013]

Sharqiya vigilantes kill two suspected murderers
Two men accused of kidnapping and killing a student in Sharqiya Governorate are dead after family members took revenge Tuesday. The boy’s father had reported his son missing Tuesday. Later that day, the teen’s father supposedly found the kidnappers, who immediately confessed to the kidnapping and murder. After finding the body of his dead son, the father and other residents killed the alleged kidnappers and mutilated their corpses. Reports say they hung what remained of the bodies on lampposts. [Egypt Independent, 2/19/2013]

Jama’a al-Islamiya forms armed squads to fight thugs
Jama’a al-Islamiya on Tuesday announced it has formed squads with 13 other Islamist parties and movements to fight vandals, thugs and groups like the Black Bloc. Spokesperson Khaled al-Sherif said the squads were formed with the Fadila, Asala and Shaab Parties. “We are talking to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis to join,” he said. [Egypt Independent, 2/19/2013]

Also of Interest:

Continued strike of police officers in Beni Suef | Shorouk (Arabic)


Twenty-five political groups call for protests, demand attorney general’s removal
Twenty-five political groups call for protests this Friday in front of the attorney general’s office in what they call the “Friday of judgement of the Morsi regime.” The political groups specified four demands in a statement: that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood be held accountable for crimes against the Egyptian people, removal of the attorney general and replacing him with someone able to exact justice, the immediate release of political prisoners, and the trial of senior Brotherhood officials responsible for the deaths of protesters. The signatories include: the Free Front for Peaceful Change, the Revolutionary Forces Coalition, the Popular Movement for Azhar’s Independence, Dustour Party Youth, the Revolutionary Youth Union, among others. [Ahram (Arabic), 2/20/2013]

Novelist accused of contempt of religion
Novelist and author Youssef Ziedan was referred to investigation on Tuesday for contempt of religion. Ziedan is a writer known for reflecting controversial opinions on religious matters through his books. Azazil, the novel which earned Ziedan the Arab Booker Prize, challenged Christian beliefs when weighed against philosophy and logic. The novelist was released after an investigation, reported state-owned Al-Ahram. Ziedan requested a respite to respond to the notes issued in the Islamic Research Complex’s report regarding his case. [DNE, 2/20/2013]

Also of Interest:
AUC roundtable discusses Egyptian women | DNE
EOHR worried about freedom of expression | DNE
Civil disobedience in Port Said enters fourth day | Aswat Masriya
Egypt PM meets with Port Said MPs to end crisis | Aswat Masriya
Protests paralyze factories in Suez Canal city | Reuters


New US Secretary of State Kerry to visit Egypt
Newly appointed US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to visit Egypt in early March as part of stops to nine countries in Europe and the Middle East on his first official international tour. Kerry will travel from 24 February to 6 March, visiting the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, in that order, department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a Tuesday press briefing. The trip is considered "more broadly as a listening tour," Nuland said. [Egypt Independent, AP, DNE, 2/20/2013]

UN: Egypt protest law should be reconsidered
The United Nations joined the debate by condemning the current draft protest law being discussed in the Shura Council. The Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a press statement on Tuesday expressing its concern over the law, which is yet to be approved by Egypt’s legislative body. “We regret that the draft law approved by the Cabinet on 13 February does not sufficiently take into account comments submitted by OHCHR and other human rights organisations,” said the statement. [DNE, AFP/Ahram Online, 2/19/2013]

Iran supports Egyptian solution to Syria
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast has said Egypt’s proposed plan for a solution to the Syrian civil war is closely aligned with that of Iran. The statement was made during a weekly press briefing, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Mehmanparast said Iran would be considering the plan before submitting its final views to Egyptian officials. He noted that during the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) ad hoc summit held in Mecca last year President Mohamed Morsi had proposed the creation of the Syrian quartet, comprising of Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The details of Morsi’s “solution” are currently unknown, but the president has promised to announce “these procedures once they are finalised, and hopefully it won’t take long”, he said.  [DNE, 2/19/2013]

Also of Interest:
FM Amr calls on Quartet to meet in Moscow to address Arab-Israeli conflict | Shorouk (Arabic)

Photo: DNE

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