Top News: Sisi Extends State of Emergency in North Sinai State for Another Three Months

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree on Wednesday extending the state of emergency in North Sinai by another three months. North Sinai has existed in a state of emergency since October 2014, after thirty-three security personnel were killed in an attack at a checkpoint in North Sinai. Since then, Sisi has extended the state of emergency every three months. The state of emergency affects the areas of Rafah, al-Arish, and Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai, and includes a night curfew in these areas from 7 pm to 6 am. According to the decree, the armed forces and police must use all necessary means to confront terrorism and to protect citizens and public and private property, and whoever violates the decree will be sentenced to prison. Meanwhile, medical sources in al-Arish city reported that a police captain and two soldiers were injured when an IED targeted their armored vehicle on Tuesday. [AMAY, Reuters, 10/28/2015]


Nour Party candidate attacked in Gharbiya; Party mulls withdrawal from elections
A Nour Party parliamentary candidate was attacked Tuesday by unknown assailants and has suffered head injuries and a concussion. Mahmoud Abdel-Hamid, who is running for an individual seat in Gharbiya governorate and is a member of the Salafist party, was forced out of his car and attacked by two men riding a motorcycle. Deputy Head of the Salafi Call, Yasser Borhamy, again said on Wednesday that the Nour Party is considering withdrawing from parliamentary elections, adding that party leaders almost unanimously agree to withdrawal. Borhamy, who said the party will announce a final decision in a few hours, said there were no disagreements between Salafi Call and Nour Party leaders over the party’s withdrawal from the elections. “Everyone can watch and read about the murder, beating, and dragging of our candidates since the beginning of the elections, amid the total silence of the state and its apparatuses who should protect candidates,” Borhamy said. Meanwhile, Younis Makhioun, Chairman of the Nour Party said that the low turnout by voters during runoffs in the first round of parliamentary elections serves as “a strong message to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.” He added, “Despair is creeping into people…especially after the state’s rumored backing of a specific electoral list.” [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 10/28/2015]

Low to medium turnout in parliamentary elections runoff
Run-offs in the first phase of Egypt’s parliamentary elections saw a low turnout in most provinces in Egypt Tuesday, and abroad where voting started on Monday. The first day of runoffs witnessed many of the same problematic circumstances as last week’s, in terms of participation turnout and electoral violations. High Elections Committee (HEC) Spokesman Omar Marwan said as many as 20,000 Egyptian expatriates had participated in the run-off as of Tuesday evening. Local reporters, meanwhile, submitted reports at the end of the day Tuesday from all governorates. In Alexandria, reporters quoted Judge Abdullah al-Khouly, the head of the High Elections Committee (HEC), saying turnout on the first day was 5 to 6 percent. In Minya, ONtv channel’s reporter said that women were highly engaged in the voting process, while in Assiut, al-Hayat TV’s reporter said that on average in every polling stations of around 2,000 registered voters, nearly 200 participated. Among the governorates with low participation rates were Luxor, Red Sea, and Aswan. Reporters also confirmed disputes and clashes between supporters of different candidates, in addition to violations of electoral promotions in Giza’s constituencies of Agouza, Manshiet al-Qanater, and Talbiya. A total of 272 polling stations were delayed in opening doors to voters in Beheira and Giza. Meanwhile, a number of judges halted the voting process at thirteen polling stations in Fayoum after one of them had a quarrel with security forces protecting his station. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has directed government agencies to give their employees half-day leave on Wednesday, as a means of offsetting low voter turnout. [DNE, AMAY, Aswat Masriya, 10/28/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s Prime Minister cites authorities’ negligence over Alexandria floods | Ahram Online, AMAY, Aswat Masriya
  • In Alexandria, rain sweeps away Egyptian parliamentary run-offs | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
  • Empty polling stations remind us of pre-January 25 times says Ibrahim Eissa | AMAY
  • Security challenges lie ahead of parliamentary elections in Sinai | DNE
  • Imbaba: From an Islamist stronghold, to Coptic and female finalists | DNE
  • Inauguration of eighty-three water plant projects before May 30 says Cabinet | DNE
  • Bribery controlled first round of elections says rights organization director | AMAY


Egyptian state committee freezes assets of twenty-five Brotherhood members
A state committee responsible for appraising Muslim Brotherhood assets has frozen the assets of twenty-five alleged members of the group, a Monday statement read. The committee’s secretary-general, Mohamed Yasser Abul-Fotouh, also said the committee had decided to seize Horus Tourism Company, owned by Emad al-Gelda. The company will now be managed by the state-owned Misr Travel Company. The committee also rejected requests by Mowasaah Hospital in Tanta and the British Exchange Company in Alexandria to unfreeze their assets, and rejected petitions from the executive managers of five companies to unfreeze their bank accounts. [Ahram Online, AMAY, 10/27/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Three Irrigation Ministry officials arrested over EGP100,000 bribe | Cairo Post
  • Giza court renews detention for six ‘ISIS volunteers’ | DNE
  • Investigations with journalist Gaafar to continue next week | DNE


World Bank releases 2016 Doing Business report
Egypt slid five spots this year, ranking 131st out of 189 countries for ‘Ease of Doing Business,’ in the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2016 report , released on Tuesday. Egypt’s overall ranking fell five places to 131, while the country fell four spots to seventy-third place in the ‘Starting a Business’ category, and eight spots in the ‘Getting Credit’ category to seventy-ninth place. The country slid two spots to rank 111th in ‘Registering Property’ and another five spots in the ‘Paying Taxes’ category to 151st place. In terms of ‘Enforcing Contracts’ and ‘Trading across Borders,’ Egypt ranked the same as last year, as 155th and 157th, respectively. However, the country rose eleven places to rank 122nd in the ‘Protecting Minority Investors,’ for “barring subsidiaries from acquiring shares issued by their parent company,” said the World Bank Group. There was also a small improvement in ‘Resolving Insolvency,’ where Egypt ranked two spots higher than last year at 119th. [World Bank, 10/27/2015]

EgyptAir to launch ten year restructuring plan
EgyptAir, Egypt’s state-owned flag carrier, is in final stages of launching an overhaul and expansion plan that will reverse its downturn and propel it toward growth. “We’re developing a ten year restructuring plan, which should be finalized by mid-December,” EgyptAir Chairman and Chief Executive Sherif Fathi Attia said. Attia is optimistic that the plan, which includes network and fleet expansion, will receive government approval. He said the airline could place aircraft orders in the first quarter of 2016. He said wide-body aircraft would account for 20 to 30 percent of the total order. EgyptAir last reported an annual loss of EGP 2.2 million in 2011. The overhaul project, which could see changes in middle management, aims for profitability at the end of the current fiscal year. [Reuters, 10/27/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Cash boost sought from Egypt’s Suez Canal proves elusive | AP
  • Egypt July trade deficit hits record high since start of 2015 | Aswat Masriya
  • Economists divided on Central Bank of Egypt’s next interest rate decision | Ahram Online
  • New bank governor in Egypt faces old currency crisis | The National
  • Egyptian ministry take steps for mega projects in partnership with private sector | DNE


Media watchdog says eighteen violations against journalists on first day of runoffs
Independent observatory Journalists Against Torture (JATO) issued a report on Tuesday, documenting eighteen cases of violations against reporters across the fourteen governorates on the first day of voting in Egypt’s parliamentary elections runoffs. Giza was ranked the city with most violations with fourteen cases of banning coverage, arrests, and the confiscation of media equipment. Two al-Dostour newspaper journalists, Shaimaa Hussein and Mohamed Alaa, were also arrested Tuesday while covering the runoffs in a Giza polling station. Hussein was reportedly released without being charged, but a police report was filed against Alaa. He was released later on Tuesday. A JATO coordinator said Alaa was arrested after a dispute with a soldier guarding a polling station. Alaa was taking photos of the committee, but the soldier allegedly thought he was taking photos of the forces outside the school. [DNE, 10/28/2015]

Strike by 17,000 Mahalla workers enters seventh day
Attempts by the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company to convince striking workers to resume production failed as verbal altercations between the two parties escalated on Tuesday, and a Swedish reporter was briefly detained while covering the situation. The strike by 17,000 workers in Egypt’s largest public sector textile company, located in Mahalla city north of Cairo, has now entered its seventh day, as workers demand a 10 percent social bonus promised by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi retroactively starting July.  The strike continues despite an ultimatum issued by Labor Minister Gamal Sorour on Monday evening. Following meetings with officials in Gharbiya, the minister said that workers must resume production immediately so that within 48 hours Prime Minister Sherif Ismail could reach a “suitable agreement for them,” warning that “legal measures will be taken against any attempts to obstruct work.” Workers at the company were outraged by the minister’s statements, saying that he is imposing a “condition” instead of resolving the crisis. Meanwhile, workers at the Port Said Engineering Works Company, affiliated with the Suez Canal Authority staged a sit-in at the company’s headquarters at Port Fouad to demand the annual 10 percent bonus promised to them by the same presidential decree. [Aswat Masriya, AMAY, 10/28/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Heavy rains return to Egypt’s Alexandria, expected to continue through Sunday | Ahram Online
  • Rain causes building collapse in Alexandria, three dead | Ahram Online, AP, Cairo Post
  • Former prisoner publicizes cellmates’ stories | DNE
  • ElBaradei slams activists’ detention as campaigns for release surge | Egypt Independent
  • Growing Egyptian support for Palestinian resistance movement | DNE
  • Twitter backlash against jailed activist Alaa Abd El Fattah ensues | Mada Masr
  • Egypt authorities blame destroyed archaeological sites on citizens’ ‘lack of cultural awareness’ | Al Monitor
  • CPJ calls for release of three Egypt journalists arrested in one week | Aswat Masriya


Mistral warships to be delivered to Egypt in the first half of 2016
France is to deliver two Mistral warships most likely in the first half of the 2016, the French Ambassador to Egypt Andre Baran told state news agency MENA on Monday. Baran said that France is about finalize all issues related to the deal, but he believes that the delivery of the warships will not take place before the end of 2015. Egypt signed the deal with France to buy the two Mistral warships at a joint press conference in early October. [Ahram Online, 10/28/2015]


Sisi on tour to UAE, India and Bahrain
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi began a tour on Tuesday to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and India, the Egyptian presidency said in a statement. Sisi’s first stop was the UAE where he met the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, to discuss the crises in the Middle East and possible solutions. During the meeting, the strategic partnership between Egypt and UAE was highlighted, and both parties confirmed its importance and the need for further partnerships. During  talks, the officials discussed the Arab coalition support for the legitimate government in Yemen and its role regarding confronting the hostile situation in the country. They reviewed the coalition’s efforts to secure Bab al-Mandeb Strait and promote the development of global trade. Similarly, they discussed the Syrian crisis and the importance of cooperation between international and regional powers to develop a political solution, as well as UN efforts to find a peaceful solution in Libya. Furthermore, both sides stressed the necessity to fight terrorism and extremism in the region and covered recent developments in Palestine. Sisi’s next stop will be in India to attend the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, followed by a visit to Bahrain to discuss bilateral relations. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, AP, 10/27/2015]

Egypt to attend Syria talks in Vienna on Friday 
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will reportedly attend international talks on the Syrian conflict, taking place in Vienna on Friday. Russia had asked for participation in the talks to be widened to include both Egypt and Iran. Egypt’s decision to take part in the talks is the latest signal of warming relations between Russia and Egypt. Cairo has publicly come out in support of Russian air strikes in Syria, saying they would curtail the spread of terrorism and deal a blow to Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), whose local affiliate is battling Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula. However, Egypt has avoided showing direct support for President Bashar al-Assad, a leader whom Saudi Arabia, a close ally and financial supporter of Egypt, believes should be removed from power. The decision to join the talks follows a visit by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to Cairo on Sunday. At a joint press conference, Shoukry made no comment on the Russian invitation and denied the two allies were at odds over Syria, where Saudi Arabia has backed some rebel groups. [Reuters, 10/28/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Kuwait to deport twenty-three expats, including Egyptians, for mass brawl says official | Ahram Online
  • Poland reduces travel warnings to Egypt | AMAY
  • Minister flies to Jordan after Egyptians die in fireworks explosion | AMAY
  • Bodies of Egyptian victims in Jordan arrive in Cairo | DNE