Top News: Six Military Conscripts Shot Dead Near Cairo

Gunmen shot dead six army officers near Cairo on Saturday, the second attack on Egyptian security forces in three days that the military has blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed President Mohamed Morsi.

HPEC to announce presidential elections date within days; Khaled Ali says he won’t run
Interim president Adly Mansour said Egypt will have an “elected” leader in two and a half months, in an interview published Friday by the state-owned daily Al-Ahram. He added on Sunday, that the High Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) will announce the date of the elections within the coming few days. According to State Information Service, he also expressed a preference to pass a new presidential elections law, rather than modify the existing one. Meanwhile, Leftist activist and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali has said he will not stand in the upcoming presidential election, describing it as a farce, at a press conference at the journalists syndicate on Sunday. Following Ali’s decision, Hamza Zoubaa, an official spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, said the announcement is “evidence of manipulation of the official results of the elections,” as well as a means of filtering candidates to “make way for the Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.” A recent survey conducted by Egyptian polling center, Baseera, says that fifty-one percent of the population would vote for Sisi, while forty-five percent of Egyptians said they were undecided as to who they would vote for. Just one percent said they will be voting for Hamdeen Sabbahi, the only person who has so far officially announced his candidacy. [DNE, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 3/16/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Egypt has come a long way since July: Interim leader | Ahram Online
  • Egypt PM calls on doctors to suspend strike | Aswat Masriya
  • Amr Moussa: President and citizens are constitution-bound | Ahram Online
  • Moussa says immunization of election commission’s decisions does not violate constitution | Egypt Independent


Morsi’s son referred to criminal court on drugs charges
Prosecutors in North Banha have referred the son of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to court on drugs charges. Moumin Salman, a prosecutor in the Nile Delta city of Benha, ordered Monday that 20-year-old Abdullah Morsi, a university freshman, be sent to court to face charges of drug use and possession. Morsi and a friend were arrested on 1 March for allegedly possessing cannabis. Both men were released pending investigation after they agreed to give blood and urine samples for a drug test, a top prosecutor said. The test allegedly showed Morsi and his friend had used drugs. [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, 3/17/2014]

Brotherhood headquarters clashes trial postponed to March 29
The Sunday trial of several leading Muslim Brotherhood for the death of protesters during deadly clashes outside the Brotherhood headquarters was postponed until March 29 at the request of the prosecution. Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and his two deputies Khairat al-Shater and Mohamed Bayoumi, along with fifteen other Brotherhood members are charged with inciting the killing of protesters, premeditated murder and possession of firearms, among other crimes, during the June 30 demonstrations that ousted former president Mohamed Morsi. [DNE, 3/16/2014]

FJP journalist gets year in prison for ‘opposing constitution
An Egyptian misdemeanour court sentenced a journalist who had worked for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice newspaper to a year in prison with hard labour for disturbing the peace and “opposing the constitution.” Samah Ibrahim was apprehended by security forces while covering a rally by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi who were demonstrating against the constitution during a referendum in January. [Ahram Online 3/17/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Trial date set for Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fatah and 24 others | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Trial of 26 suspects, involved in Nasr City terrorist cell, adjourned to 17 March | Egypt Independent
  • Court hands 68 suspects two-year sentence over High Court clashes | Egypt Independent
  • Lawyers wary of Abou Zaabal vehicle verdict | DNE
  • Trial date for alleged perpetrators of Kerdasa violence set for end of March | DNE
  • Court rejects appeal for Ahmed Ezz imprisonment | DNE
  • More revolution anniversary detainees sentenced | DNE


Egypt says food subsidy bill to be $4.31 billion – report
Egypt’s food subsidy bill will be 30 billion Egyptian pounds ($4.31 billion) this year, an amount that is expected to remain stable in the next fiscal year that begins in July, the new supplies minister said, pledging to tackle a smuggling “mafia.” Khaled Hanafi was appointed last month after his predecessor sacked top officials at the state-owned silos and storage holding company and at the main wheat importing body amid allegations of corruption. The new minister is showing signs of being more outspoken than most about corruption that leaches much-needed funds from a struggling economy. Hanafi estimated that around 7 million Egyptian pounds of the subsidies bill was wasted yearly due to the smuggling. [Reuters, 3/16/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Number of tourists down by 28.9 percent, says CAPMAS | Mada Masr
  • Economy in a week: Taxing the rich | Mada Masr


NileSat investing jamming of Bassem Youssef’s El-Bernameg for second time
Egypt’s satellite operator, NileSat, said it is investigating why Bassem Youssef’s El-Bernameg show was jammed for the second week running. A group of hackers, calling themselves the ‘Symbol of Justice- Electronic Egyptian Army’ has claimed responsibility for scrambling of the privately-owned satellite TV channel MBC Masr, while El-Bernameg show was on air. The group also threatened fifteen TV channels, including ones affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood and one for the dancer called Sama al-Masry, that broadcast from a satellite whose signal is near to that of the Nilesat. [ Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, AP 3/15/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Pro-Brotherhood students rally at Al-Azhar and Ain Shams universities | Egypt Independent
  • ‘Citizen-oriented’ policies needed, doctor-activist says | Ahram Online


Six military conscripts shot dead near Cairo
Gunmen shot dead six army officers near Cairo on Saturday, the second attack on Egyptian security forces in three days that the military has blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed President Mohamed Morsi. Saturday’s attack on a military police checkpoint was carried out by unidentified gunmen who then fled, according to state media. A senior security source told state TV that two bombs found near the checkpoint had also been defused. The Muslim Brotherhood denied the army’s accusation that the group is responsible for a recent attack on a checkpoint, describing it as groundless. Following an emergency meeting Saturday, The Egyptian cabinet issued a press statement announcing that it would take all necessary measures to counter terrorism. [Reuters, Egypt Independent, DNE, Aswat Masriya 3/16/2014]

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis says founding member died in accidental explosion
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based militant group said on Saturday that one of its founding members was killed in a car accident. A statement released to the Associated Press confirmed that Tawfiq Mohamed Freij, died when a bomb he was carrying was set off by a car accident on Tuesday. According to the statement, Freij masterminded the group’s tactic of blowing up pipelines to stop Egyptian gas supplies to Israel. The statement also claims he was in charge of a failed attack on the interior minister in September. This news comes as a Cairo court is currently determining whether or not to label Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis a terrorist group. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 3/16/2014]

Egypt crackdown brings most arrests in decades
Egypt’s crackdown on Islamists has jailed 16,000 people over the past eight months in the country’s biggest round-up in nearly two decades, according to previously unreleased figures from security officials. Rights activists say reports of abuses in prisons are mounting, with prisoners describing systematic beatings and miserable conditions for dozens packed into tiny cells. Samia Jaheen, an Egyptian rights activist, criticized the crackdown telling Ahram Online that security forces often arrest individuals for “unclear reasons, or for no reason at all.” [AP, Ahram Online, 3/17/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Special Report: Egyptian militants outwit army in Sinai battlefield | Reuters
  • Two police officers killed in a security raid targeting an outlaw in Qena | Egypt Independent
  • Prosecutor investigates bombs found near school in Giza | Egypt Independent
  • Bombs defused in two schools and power station | Mada Masr


Libya releases sixty Egyptians detained over visa violations
Libyan authorities released sixty Egyptians detained in Libya over suspected visa violations according to the Libyan foreign minister. Thirty-nine of the sixty Egyptians did not have the required legal documents, Rami Kaal told Egyptian state news agency MENA on Saturday. Egypt’s ambassador in Libya, Mohamed Abou-Bakr, confirmed the sixty had been released after being held in custody since last week while their documents were checked. Libya’s envoy in Cairo said on Friday that some of the detained Egyptians would be deported because they did not have the correct papers. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online 3/17/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • HRW urges Egypt to act against Sinai traffickers | Mada Masr, HRW