Top News: Sisi Swears in Ten New Ministers in Cabinet Reshuffle

Ten new Egyptian ministers were sworn in on Wednesday by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as part of a limited cabinet reshuffle. Judge Hossam Abdel Reheem was appointed Justice Minister, replacing sacked minister Ahmed al-Zend. Dalia Khorshed was appointed as Investment Minister, replacing Ashraf Salman, and Amr al-Garhy replaced Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian. Ashraf al-Sharqawy was appointed as Business Sector Minister, while Mohamed Saafan replaced Manpower Minister Gamal Sorour. Mohamed Abdel-Atty was appointed as Irrigation Minister replacing Hossam Moghazi. Mohamed Yehia Rashed took the place of Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou, and Khaled al-Anany is the now Antiquities Minister, replacing Mamdouh al-Damaty.  Galal al-Saeed has replaced Saad al-Geyoushi as Transportation Minister and Sherif Fathy has taken Hossam Kamal’s place as Civil Aviation Minister. [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 3/23/2016]


Sisi says he seeks ‘balance’ between stability and freedoms in meeting with intellectuals
During a meeting Tuesday with more than 20 intellectual figures, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he aims to find equilibrium between Egypt’s stability on one side and securing freedoms and rights on the other, according to state news agency MENA. The meeting is the first in a string of gatherings of social dialogue that Sisi aims to hold with figures from across the country’s political, economic and arts spectrum, the presidency said in a statement. The statement added that the meeting aimed to address efforts by Sisi’s administration to “improve public services and boost investments” as well as “looking at grievances harbored by the public.” Participants in the meeting called for better participation in the country’s political scene by political parties, non-governmental organizations and professional syndicates. They also urged the guaranteeing of unrestricted freedom of expression and demanded an overhaul of the country’s media scene. According to Daily News Egypt, Sisi said it is necessary to give the media the opportunity to regulate itself. Some participants also called for revoking Egypt’s protest law, as well as calling for the release of TV presenter Islam al-Beheiry and teenager Mahmoud Hussein. Youssef Al Qaeed, Abdallah al-Sinnway, Hisham Qassem, Helmy al-Nemnem, Mohamed Arab, Youssef Zidan, Galal Amin, Mohamed Salmawy, and Gaber Asfour were among those present. [Ahram Online, DNE, SIS, Cairo Post, Aswat Masriya, 3/22/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Minister of Parliamentary Affairs says parliament to approve internal by-laws before March 27 | DNE
  • Egypt parliament’s first session to continue until October | Ahram Online


Court ordered release on bail of ‘nation without torture’ teen blocked by appeal
A Cairo court ordered Tuesday the release of a teenager who was arrested in 2014, allegedly for wearing a t-shirt denouncing torture, on EGP 1,000 bail (approximately $112) pending investigation, his lawyer said. The order came hours after Mahmoud Hussein’s case was reportedly brought up at a meeting between Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and a group of prominent intellectuals who called on the Egyptian president to instigate his release. Mohamed was arrested with Islam Talaat, who was also ordered released on EGP 1,000 bail. On Tuesday night, however, the prosecution appealed the decision and blocked their release. Mahmoud’s lawyer, Mokhtar Mounib, said that the appeal was in violation of the law. Since pre-trial detention is limited to two years in Egypt, Mahmoud has qualified for unconditional release since January of this year. The Cairo criminal court will rule on the prosecution’s appeal on Thursday. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, DNE, 3/23/2016]

Egyptian student detained for recruiting fighters for Syria
Egyptian student Islam Hamzay, who, according to his family disappeared on January 3, 2016 as a result of an enforced disappearance and “was detained for 70 days without his family or his lawyer knowing anything about him,” is facing charges of recruiting young men to travel and fight among the troops of the militant group Al-Nusra Front in Syria. According to Hamzay’s brother, the prosecution’s evidence against Hamzay is a report from the National Security Apparatus charging him with joining a technical school to spread “jihadist ideologies” and recruit young men to travel to Syria through Turkey. Prosecutors also assert that Hamzay used the internet to interact with high profile militants in Syria to assist in the process of recruiting and traveling. It is alleged that Hamzay joined Al-Nusra Front as a student in the Nasser Technical School in Giza, after he was expelled from Al-Azhar University. His family has accused the Ministry of Interior of “kidnapping” him and investigating him without just cause. The State Security Prosecution renewed Hamzay’s detention for 15 days on Monday,  [DNE, 3/22/2016]

Also of Interest


Egypt approaches banks as seeks to market local debt
Officials from the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) met with banks in the United Arab Emirates UAE as Egypt seeks to attract foreign investors to its local-currency debt market. The state-run lender also plans to meet investors in other countries, NBE’s Chief Financial Officer Hussein Refaie said, without giving details. The NBE has been offering dollar call options for up to a year to overseas investors buying Egyptian Treasury bills since March 14. Authorities hope the product will help renew interest in the local debt market. The options are sold at a premium of about 4.75 percent for one-year contracts, according to state-run Banque Misr, which is also selling the product. They allow investors to buy back dollars at the same rate at which they were sold, effectively eliminating the risk resulting from further pound weakening. By also guaranteeing the ability to expatriate funds, they address the most common concerns cited by investors for avoiding local debt. “We are explaining the product to investors and receiving feedback,” Refaie said. “It’s too early to talk about finalized deals, but there is a lot of interest in the product.” [Bloomberg, 3/23/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Saudi stocks edge up, Egypt soft in early trade | Reuters
  • Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues decline for second consecutive month | Ahram Online
  • CBE provides banks with $104.5 million, sets US dollar price at EGP 8.78 | DNE
  • Egyptian pound weakens sharply against the dollar on black market | Reuters
  • Petroleum Ministry denies problems with BG, Eni | Mada Masr, AMAY
  • Egypt close to EUR 1 billion French arms purchases | Reuters, Ahram Online


Founder of leading feminist organization officially summoned in NGO foreign funding case
Founder and director of Nazra for Feminist Studies, Mozn Hassan, was officially summoned in the reopened 2011 case against a number of non-governmental organizations accused of receiving foreign funding, the organization said in a statement on Tuesday. Hassan was summoned following the interrogation of three other Nazra staff in the same case, who were questioned at the New Cairo Court on Tuesday about the organization and the nature of their work. Hassan accompanied her colleagues, two of whom hold managerial positions and the third who works on Nazra’s programs, when she was repeatedly referred to as “a defendant” in the case. The judge informed Hassan verbally that she would be questioned on March 29, and that her lawyers would be able to review the case files on March 27. Hassan said Wednesday that she is the first staff member to be officially summoned. She explained that the three other Nazra employees were only summoned as part of the investigation, but are not considered defendants in the case. “During their interrogation, I was always referred to as a defendant. Hassan said she won’t attend on March 29 unless her lawyers review the case files first. “I have to look at the case files to know the exact charges against me. If lawyers fail to get the case file on Sunday, I won’t attend, and the judge will have to send me a written summons, not a verbal one,” she stated. [Mada Masr, 3/23/2016]

Also of Interest

  • NCGC workers to stage sit-in outside presidential palace on March 30 | DNE


Sputnik reports Russia wants to monitor security procedures in Egypt’s airports
Russian Transportation Minister Maksim Sokolov announced his country’s request that Russian experts be permanently employed at Egypt’s airports to monitor security procedures following any return of flights between Egypt and Russia, according to Russian news agency Sputnik. Sokolov revealed to a Russian TV channel on Monday that there are preparations underway for talks with Egypt’s aviation authorities about this request. He added that Russian officials are awaiting approval of their demands from their Egyptian counterparts. According to Sputnik, the prospective deployment of Russian experts at Egyptian airports would follow a decision by “Russia’s political leadership” to resume flights between the two countries. [Ahram Online, 3/23/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Family of missing officer in Sinai demands prompt investigation | DNE


Germany concerned about ‘repression’ of human rights NGOs in Egypt
The German government expressed its concern about the “repression” of human rights organizations on Tuesday, following the recently reopened investigations into the alleged foreign funding of many NGOs. “We are following the latest travel bans, bank account freezes, and investigations against human rights activists and organizations in Egypt with great concern,” a statement from the German Foreign Office read. The German statement stressed that recent moves by Egyptian authorities violate both international human rights standards and the Egyptian constitution. “Respect for human rights and a free civil society are prerequisites for sustainable stability,” the statement added. The German government called on the Egyptian government to create conditions “in which human rights groups can do their work unhindered, work that is important for the country.” [DNE, 3/23/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Sahel-Saharan defense officials talk military cooperation in Sharm al-Sheikh | Ahram Online, DNE