Top News: Ten New Ministers Take Oath in Cabinet Reshuffle


Ten new ministers were sworn in before President Mohamed Morsi Sunday, and four of them are known to be Muslim Brotherhood members. 


Egypt presidency accepts al-Erian’s resignation from advisory council
Egypt’s presidency on Monday formally accepted the resignation of Essam al-Erian, leading Muslim Brotherhood member and vice chairman of the group’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), from his position as presidential advisor. The veteran Brotherhood leader formally tendered his resignation from the post on Sunday, stating on his official Facebook page that he had made the decision due to a perceived "conflict of interest" following his recent appointment as head of the FJP’s bloc in the Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of Egypt’s parliament). [Ahram Online, Daily News Egypt, Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), 1/7/2013]

ElBaradei beefs up Constitution Party leadership
Constitution Party leader Mohamed ElBaradei on Sunday reshuffled the party’s steering committee and made changes to the party’s structure in preparation for the upcoming parliamentary election. The new steering committee includes former Democratic Front Party deputy leader Ibrahim Nawar; former Free Egyptians Party leader Basel Adel; Ghad Party founder Gamila Ismail; Kefaya founding member George Isaac; prominent legal expert Hossam Eisa; prominent writer Alaa Al-Aswany; New Woman Foundation founding member Hala Shukrallah; and prominent filmmaker Yousry Nassrallah. The changes follow ElBaradei’s calls for an opposition alliance in Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections. [Ahram Online, 1/7/2013]

Egypt MPs disagree on status of Coptic Christians in draft elections law
Members of the committee for legislative and constitutional affairs in Egypt’s Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of parliament) voiced disagreement in a Sunday session over the legal status of Coptic Christians in a proposed elections law. MP Mamdouh Ramzy, appointed to the Shura Council by President Mohamed Morsi last month, suggested that Egypt implement the "Christian seat" model – as do Jordan, Lebanon and Syria – in the proposed legislation. MP Osama Fikry of the Salafist Nour Party disagreed with Ramzy, however, saying that this system would only serve to "deepen divides between Muslims and Christians." [Ahram Online, 1/6/2013]

Ten new ministers take oath in Cabinet reshuffle
Ten new ministers were sworn in before President Mohamed Morsi Sunday, and four of them are known to be Muslim Brotherhood members. Mohamed Bishr has been appointed as minister of state for local development. Bishr is the ex-governor of Al-Monofeiya. He is a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guidance Bureau. Omar Salem is the new minister of legal and parliamentary affairs. Salem is a criminal law professor at Cairo University and was previously minister of legal and parliamentary affairs during the Cabinet of former premier Kamal Al-Ganzouri. Ahmed Shabaan, another Brotherhood member, is the new minister of electricity. Al-Morsi Al-Sayed Hegazy was sworn in as the new minister of finance. Hegazy replaced Momtaz Al-Said and is also known to be a Brotherhood member. Wael Al-Maedawy is the new minister of civil aviation. Mohamed Ibrahim Moustafa will replace Ahmed Gamal as the new minister of interior. Moustafa was the ex-assistant to the minister and headed Egypt’s prisons authority. Hatem Abdel Latif is the new minister of transportation. Abdel Latif is a roads engineer professor at Ain Shams University. Khaled Abdel Aal is the new minister of environmental affairs. Bassem Kamal, the final Ikhwan in the reshuffle, is the new minister of supply. Atef Helmy is the new Minister of Communication. Reaction to the appointment of 10 new ministers in Hesham Qandil’s cabinet was mostly negative, as political movements voiced their scepticism. [Daily News Egypt, Ahram Online,Egypt Independent, SIS, 1/5/2013]

Also of Interest:
Economy, security, judicial independence priorities of revamped Egypt govt: PM | Ahram Online
Egypt chooses another technocrat as finance minister | Ahram Online
Presidency criticises Egyptian media | Daily News Egypt
Political Parties Affairs Committee approves new Shafiq party| Egypt Independent
FJP to contest parliamentary elections without alliances | Egypt Independent
Jama’a al-Islamiya seeks electoral alliance between Islamists, liberals | Egypt Independent
El Watan Publishes the Parliamentary Elections Laws | El Watan (Arabic)


Egyptian activist faces military trial for filming army
An Ismailiya military court postponed Sunday the trial of activist Mohamed Sabry accused of filming a military area in Sinai. The hearing will now take place on 9 January. Sabry, who is a member of organisation No Military Trials for Civilians that campaigns to have the internationally-condemned practice banned, was detained on Friday while recording the military zone in Rafah, North Sinai, state-owned news agency MENA reported. [Ahram Online, Daily News Egypt, Egypt Independent, 1/6/2013]


IMF official in Egypt on Monday for loan talks
A top International Monetary Fund official will visit Egypt on Monday for talks likely to focus on the $4.8 billion loan agreement frozen last month because of political unrest in the country. The trip to Cairo by Masood Ahmed, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department, comes at the invitation of Egyptian authorities, the Washington-based lender said Saturday in a statement. Discussions will focus on "the most recent economic developments, their policy plans for addressing Egypt’s economic and financial challenges, and possible IMF support for Egypt in facing these challenges," the Fund said. [Ahram Online/AFP, Reuters, Daily News Egypt, SIS, El Watan (Arabic), 1/6/2013]

USD exchange rate continues to rise as foreign reserves falls
The amount of dollars offered in the daily Forex auctions managed by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) slid by 20 per cent in the fifth day of auctions. The dollar price continued to rise in the auction that took place Sunday, the minimum price paid to buy the $60m offered by the bank was EGP 6.4185 per dollar. The cut-off price in Thursday’s auction was EGP 6.3860 per dollar, for the $75bn offered. The recurrent rise in the dollar’s exchange rate reflected on the price of imported goods such as steel, sugar and wheat and risks of triggering an inflationary wave. [Daily News Egypt, 1/6/2013]

Also of Interest:
EBDA discusses tax amendments | Daily News Egypt
New mobile line taxes could generate LE750 mn | Egypt Independent
Shura Council prepares new Islamic bonds law | Egypt Independent
Prime minister: Egyptian expat remittances increase by 40 percent | Egypt Independent, SIS


Bahais cannot enroll in public schools, education minister says
The education minister has repeated remarks that Bahais cannot enroll in public schools, saying it violates the Constitution. “The Constitution only recognizes the three Abrahamic religions,” Ibrahim Ghoneim told Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper Saturday. “And as religion is a subject taught in schools, they do not meet the requirements for enrollment.” [Egypt Independent, 1/6/2013]

Also of Interest:
Abu Ismail tops ‘press enemies’ list, says he has not insulted journalists | Egypt Independent, Daily News Egypt


Egyptian army foils an attempt to ‘bomb Coptic church’ in Sinai
The official Facebook Page of the Egyptian armed forces spokesperson, Colonel Ahmed Ali, has announced on Monday that forces "have foiled an attempt to bomb the Rafah Church in North Sinai." According to the short statement, the army patrols discovered two cars carrying explosives in a street between the Church and a military facility under construction at 1am Monday. According to Shorouk, a military source claimed that the four masked assailants who attempted to bomb the church were linked to Gaza.[Ahram Online, Daily News Egypt, Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), 1/7/2013]

Reports on halting ‘Operation Sinai’ are false: Egypt military spokesman

Security operations in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, dubbed ‘Operation Sinai,’ remain ongoing, a military spokesman has announced. said in a statement. Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Ali, official military spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces asserted that the Egyptian military was continuing the operation in Sinai in coordination with the interior ministry, stressing that there were no plans to negotiate with the "armed and criminal forces" that were working against "security and stability" in the restless peninsula. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, SIS, 1/6/2013]

Also of Interest:

Sinai sheikhs meet with military | Daily News Egypt


Negotiations ongoing with US to drop Egypt’s debt: Planning minister
Egypt is continuing to negotiate with the United States over a debt swap programme, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ashraf al-Arabi has said. Egypt aims to convince the US to swap foreign debt for assets, and to drop over $1 billion in "odious" debt, the minister explained. "We are very close to reaching an agreement with the US on dropping $450 million worth of debt. However, our counterparts are inclined to tie this agreement to the success of the IMF loan deal," al-Arabi told Al-Ahram’s Arabic website.[Ahram Online, 1/7/2013]

Arab foreign ministers hold emergency meeting over Syrian refugees
Arab foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo Sunday at the Arab League headquarters to discuss the issue of Syrian refugees displaced in Lebanon, who are putting pressure on the country’s economy, according to the league website. About 175,000 displaced Syrians have officially fled to Lebanon since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in March 2011, and another unofficial 75,000 have also entered the country. [Egypt Independent, 1/6/2013]

Also of Interest:
Foreign Ministry urge probe into killing of Egyptian citizen in Libya | SIS
Morsi: Settling Syrian crisis tops Egypt’s agenda | SIS

Photo: Pope Tawadros II, Head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, leads the Coptic Christmas midnight mass at the al-Abasseya Cathedral in Cairo late on January 6, 2013. (AP)

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