Top News: Sisi Ratifies Constituencies Law; Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr Shuts Down; China, Egypt Sign Strategic Partnership

On the same day he left to China for political and economic talks, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ratified an anticipated electoral constituencies law, the final prerequisite for holding parliamentary elections, which would conclude the country’s transitional roadmap.


Sisi ratifies Egypt electoral constituencies law
On the same day he left to China for political and economic talks, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ratified an anticipated electoral constituencies law, the final prerequisite for holding parliamentary elections, which would conclude the country’s transitional roadmap. The law drafted by Egypt’s government last week will divide the country into 237 constituencies for individual candidacy seats and another four for party list seats. The parliament will be comprised of a total of 567 seats, 120 for party ‎candidates, 420 for independents, and twenty-seven for presidential ‎appointees, as stipulated by an elections law issued by former interim-president Adly Mansour in June, a day before Sisi’s inauguration as president.  [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, 12/22/2014]

Three parties withdraw from Egyptian Front Coalition
Tagammu, Ghad, and the Conference parties have withdrawn from the Egyptian Front Coalition. According to Tagmmu’s legal attorney, Alaa Essam, on Monday, the three parties refused the Coalition’s “criteria for choosing members to represent the front in the upcoming elections.” Essam said the coalition’s officials did not consult some of the participating parties before sending a suggested list of names for a new electoral alliance. The latter was formed by Mubarak-era minister and current economic consultant to the Egyptian Presidency Kamal al-Ganzouri. Following the withdrawal, the three parties will depend on individual lists to compete in elections, Essam said. [DNE, Egypt Independent, 12/22/2014]

Also of Interest
Presidential decree appoints board of trustees of “Tahya Misr” fund | Aswat Masriya
Presidential decree raises military pension increment to 15 percent | SIS


Alexandria court sets February 9 for Mahienour al-Masry verdict
Alexandria court has set February 9 for the final verdict in the trial of prominent rights lawyer Mahienour al-Masry and nine other activists on charges of storming al-Raml police station in March 2013. On Monday, the defense team argued in court that the defendants were randomly arrested while participating in a peaceful protest against the detention of fellow rights lawyers near the police station. Meanwhile, defense lawyer Abdel-Rahman al-Gohari requested the testimony of the head of Alexandria security directorate. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 12/22/2014]

Rights group challenges referral of minor to military court
Lawyers of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) have challenged the referral of a minor to military court, citing violations to the Egyptian constitution and laws that say civilian suspects must be referred to civilian judges. The center demanded permission to appeal the decision. Abdullah Zaki, 19, was taken in August to a police station where a report was filed against him, the center said. Along with others, Zaki was referred to prosecution where he was accused of joining a banned group, protesting without permission, using force, shouting anti-military slogans and damaging public property. [DNE, Egypt Independent, 12/23/2014]

Also of Interest
Appeals court adjourns FGM trial to January 26 | DNE
Sisi calls to provide more Chinese scholarships to Egyptians | Egypt Independent
Defendant sent to court for “threatening” embassy employees – prosecution | Aswat Masriya
Morsi palace clashes trial postponed | Aswat Masriya
Pro-Morsi politician sentenced to a year’s labor | Aswat Masriya
Port Said massacre trial postponed to January 10 | EGYNews (Arabic)
Trial calling for HRW, international NGO headquarters, postponed to January 27 | EGYNews (Arabic)
Lawsuit calling on Egypt to cut ties with Turkey postponed to February 10 | EGYNews (Arabic)
Court sets December 30 for first session of Kuwaiti ship captain trial | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


China and Egypt sign strategic partnership
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi concluded a summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping by signing a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement on Tuesday. The agreement was signed on Egyptian president’s four-day visit to China. The deal is believed to focus on Chinese investments in Egypt, including projects around the Suez canal, which Egypt is expanding to boost the country’s ailing economy. The trade volume between Egypt and China exceeded for the first time $10 billion in 2013, of which more than 80 percent consisted of Chinese exports. [Aswat Masriya, World Bulletin, 12/23/2014]

Also of Interest
Egypt debt rally missed by outsiders shows Sisi challenge | Bloomberg
Metro ticket price will not increase says metro spokesperson | DNE
EGP1.5 billion total funds for the white taxi project | DNE
Lower oil price “double-edged sword” for energy-hungry Egypt | Reuters
EU provides EGP70 million grant for Minya sanitation project | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr announces closure
Qatar’s controversial Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr (Al-Jazeera Egypt) announced on Monday that it is broadcasting its last news items before closure, as reconciliation efforts to mend tensions between Egypt and Qatar continue. A statement published by the Al-Jazeera said Mubasher Misr “temporarily ceased broadcasting until such time as necessary permits are issued for its return to Cairo in coordination with the Egyptian authorities.” Meanwhile, according to the statement, a new channel named Al Jazeera Mubasher Al-‘Amma (Al-Jazeera General Live) would temporarily report on global events on the same frequency as Mubasher Misr. The presenter of a Mubasher Misr program said the channel’s staff was informed of the closure only after it was announced. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, AP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, The Guardian, 12/22/2014]

Cairo University allows thirty-eight suspended students to return
Cairo University accepted the return of thirty-eight students suspended during the first semester of the current academic year, after the students had filed official complaints against their dismissal. The students had been suspended on the grounds of participating in protests inside the university. Another four cases are currently being examined.  The students’ return was conditioned by official guarantees from their legal guardians to abstain from participating in any protests or related incidents on campus. [DNE, 12/22/2014]

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Sohag bird flu case twenty-first in 2014 | Ahram Online


Security reinforcements in North Sinai following gas pipeline attack
Egypt’s security forces have increased their security presence in North Sinai’s al-Arish following an attack on Tuesday against a pipeline that carries gas to Jordan, the twenty-seventh such attack since 2011. Security forces have closed the entrances and exits of al-Arish in search of the assailants, state news agency MENA reported. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, however, Egypt’s most violent militant group, Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, have repeatedly claimed previous attacks on the gas pipeline. The General Prosecutor’s office has begun an investigation into the attack. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, AP, 12/23/2014]

Cairo drive-by shooting injures army officer
Gunmen on a motorcycle shot an Egyptian military officer, seriously wounding him as he walked to work in a Cairo neighborhood, the military said Monday. Military spokesman Mohammed Samir said on his official Facebook page that “terrorist elements” shot the non-commissioned officer in east Cairo’s el-Marg neighborhood. He said the officer had multiple wounds in different parts of his body and was transferred to a military hospital for treatment. A security official who is familiar with the incident report said four masked gunmen, riding a motorcycle and heavily armed, sprayed the 30-year old officer with bullets as he walked in a busy street, then fled. The official said witnesses reported the attack to the police. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss military affairs. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, AP, 12/22/2014]

Also of Interest
Investigations into 2013 bloody attack: suicide bomber was a security informant | Egypt Independent
Three ‘Brotherhood’ members arrested on charges of attempted Abu Zaabal prison break-in | Al-Balad (Arabic)


Egypt received Apache helicopters in November not December says US state department
Egypt received a shipment of ten Apache helicopters from the US in November, a state department spokesperson said on Tuesday, denying media reports that they were delivered on Saturday. “In August…we released ten Apache helicopters that had been held and they arrived in Egypt in November,” state department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said at a press briefing. Media reports quoted a military source saying the army received the Apache helicopters this week. [Ahram Online, 12/23/2014]

Also of Interest
Egypt extends opening of Rafah border crossing | Ahram Online
Sisi congratulates new Tunisian president and hopes for “new era of solidarity” | DNE
Shoukry reaffirms trilateral cooperation between Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus | DNE
Official: Salloum border crossing closed at Libya’s request | Egypt Independent
Egypt arrests 151 illegal migrants heading to Libya | Ahram Online
Egyptian Coptic couple killed in Libya, daughter abducted | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)