Top News: Turnout 15-16 Percent on First Day of Egyptian Election Says Prime Minister

Amid tight security, polling stations opened their doors on Sunday for Egyptians to elect members of the House of Parliament in Giza and thirteen other governorate, amid reports of low voter turnout. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said on Monday that turnout on the first day was 15 to 16 percent. Polling stations visited by reporters on Sunday pointed to a turnout of around 10 percent. The High Elections Committee (HEC) also announced Sunday that the number of voters casting their ballots electronically had reached 624,000, or 2.27 percent of all registered voters. According to an earlier HEC statement, 1,500 polling stations are equipped with electronic card readers. HEC Spokesman Omar Marwan criticized media outlets who “reported [HEC] samples as the [actual] turnout.” By noon, according to Marwan, 13,878 women and 3,130 men had voted. 7,225 were over 61 years old, while 263 were aged 18 to 21. Abdullah Fathi, head of the Judges’ Club described voter turnout as “clearly and unjustifiably weak.” Fathi said there were “no violations, breaches or quarrels,” before adding jokingly “nor even voters.” Egyptian authorities granted government workers a half-day off on Monday, the second day of voting, in an attempt to bolster the low turnout.  Minister of Local and Administrative Development Ahmed Zaki Badr said Monday the ministry would collect a 500 Egyptian pound fine from non-voters if necessary. Independent observatories and operation rooms for voting committees monitored low turnout of voters on the first day of elections, as well as violations by candidates and administrative mistakes. Democracy International said Friday in a statement it would monitor Egypt’s parliamentary elections but has scaled back its plans after having trouble getting visas for all its staff. Egyptians residing abroad also cast their votes on Saturday and Sunday, with turnout described as “moderate.” Expat results are expected to be announced on Monday evening, with embassies saying that initial results suggest that the For the Love of Egypt (Fi Hob Misr) electoral list obtained the majority of the votes. In a speech on Saturday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had urged Egyptians abroad to participate in the vote. He also called on women and youth to cast their votes. Follow live updates on the second day of elections on Ahram Online, Daily News Egypt, and Mada Masr. [Ahram Online, AP, Aswat Masriya, DNE, AFP, 10/19/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Parliamentary election boycott ignites conflict among Islamic movements | DNE
  • Minor Islamist Friday protests mark start of ‘boycott the bloody parliament’ | DNE, Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt election meets apathy in Islamist stronghold | Reuters
  • Business tycoon Sawiris accuses Nader Bakkar and his Nour Party of defaming him | Ahram Online
  • Fatwas issued on participation in parliamentary elections | DNE
  • Belly-dancer’s challenge against election disqualification postponed | AMAY
  • Egyptian women candidates work the campaign trail | AP
  • “Virginity test” activist contests parliament seat in Sohag | Aswat Masriya
  • In Egypt vote, ultraconservative Islamists try balancing act | AP
  • Youth poke fun at Egypt Elections with “instead of voting” hashtag | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt tycoon’s party eyes economy with election bid | AFP
  • Arab League hails Egypt’s first electoral day | SIS
  • Immigration Ministry prepares migration bill says minister | AMAY
  • Two anti-Muslim Brotherhood groups become allies | DNE


Egyptian anti-corruption lawyer released on bail in bribery case
Independent lawyer and former MP Hamdi al-Fakharany, well-known for his anti-corruption activism, was released on bail on Saturday after having been arrested in September on charges of bribery. Fakharany was alleged to have demanded 3.5 million Egyptian pounds from a businessman in return for dropping a corruption lawsuit against him. The prosecution imposed a gag order on the case. The former MP is known for bringing high-profile corruption-related lawsuits against companies and businessmen in the past decade, including Talaat Mostafa Group, Palm Hills Group, and Gold producer Centamin. [Ahram Online, 10/17/2015]

Newspaper IT assistant arrested in dawn raid on his home
The whereabouts of an Al-Masry Al-Youm IT assistant is still unknown since his arrest last Wednesday. Fathy Gad was arrested from his home at dawn when eight security officers seized his laptop and took him to an unknown destination. Fathy’s father, Magdy Gad, called upon Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar to disclose the location of his son, adding that he has no political affiliations. He said he submitted a complaint to the General Prosecution, fearing that any charges against his son “could be fabricated.” Negad al-Boraie, a human rights lawyer and a legal adviser to Al-Masry Al-Youm, said he was making all the necessary legal procedures for Gad’s release. Boraie said such arrest tactics are at odds with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s recent call for youths to actively partake in voting in the parliamentary elections. [AMAY, 10/18/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Alaa, Gamal Mubarak trials postponed to December 20 | DNE, AMAY


Egypt Central Bank weakens pound to 7.93 pounds to the dollar
Egypt’s Central Bank weakened the value of the Egyptian pound against the dollar Sunday for the second time in a week. The bank said in a statement that it weakened the pound at an auction, dropping the value from 7.83 to 7.93 pounds per dollar. This is the weakest the pound has been since the Egyptian government introduced the auction system in December 2012 aimed at regulating devaluation. The new rate could boost much needed foreign investment, as investors and economists view the currency as overvalued. However, some economists say that the pound depreciation will have a limited impact on Egypt’s budget deficit. Senior economist at Cairo-based CI Capital Hany Farahat said he expects the devaluation to continue throughout this week, noting that “otherwise the move would be just insignificant.” Some analysts predict the Egyptian pound to change hands at between 8.20 and 8.25 to the dollar by the end of 2015. On Monday, Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian said Egypt will delay the second tranche of an international bond issuance that had been expected in November.  A Reuters poll on Monday showed that Egypt’s economy is set to grow at a steady pace of 4.3 percent over the next three years. [Reuters, AP, Bloomberg, Aswat Masriya, 10/18/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Dollar rise amplifies prices of basic items | DNE
  • Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues ‘driven down by slowing global economy’ | Ahram Online
  • Egypt seeks EGP 360 billion private sector infrastructure investments this year says minister | Ahram Online
  • Egypt needs private sector participation in projects says economic ministers | DNE
  • Supply Ministry to secure funds for trade record project during current quarter | DNE
  • Five new PPP projects to be launched for EGP 7-8 billion says Head of PPP unit | DNE
  • More than EGP 39 billion increase in volume of deposits in July says CBE | DNE
  • Sisi meets ENI chief to discuss Zohr gas field | SIS
  • World’s most expensive IKEA Billy bookcase sold in Egypt: Bloomberg survey | Ahram Online


Protests in Cairo decries ‘Arab silence’ towards Israeli atrocities  
Protesters gathered at downtown Cairo’s Journalist’s Syndicate on Saturday to demonstrate against what they perceive as an “Arab governments’ silence” towards Israeli atrocities against Palestinians. The protest was organized by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and was attended by members from several leftist political groups including the Karama Party and the Socialist Popular Alliance Party. Those gathered chanted anti-Israel slogans and condemned the 1978 Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel. They also described Palestinian protests in the occupied territories as a “third intifada.” A well-known activist told Ahram Online that “if it wasn’t for the protest law millions would have hit the streets and gathered in squares to show support for Palestinians.” Meanwhile, students in multiple provinces demonstrated on Sunday against a recent Education Ministry decision to add marks for attendance and discipline to students grades. These protests come during an increased escalation in the number of protests across Egypt, according to a report issued on Saturday by the Arab Foundation for Civil Society and Human Rights Support. According to the report, sixty-seven protests, sit-ins and strikes have occurred in Egypt between the months of July and September. [Ahram Online 10/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Rights campaign lambasts Interior Ministry for denying forced disappearances | Mada Masr
  • Acclaimed Egyptian novelist Gamal al-Ghitani dies at age seventy | DNE, AP, AMAY, Aswat Masriya
  • Textile workers press government to maintain annual bonus | MENA
  • Independents win Cairo University staff elections | MENA


Egyptian policeman killed by roadside bomb in al-Arish
An Egyptian policeman was killed and two others injured by a bomb planted on the side of a road in the North Sinai city of al-Arish, according to a statement by the Ministry of Interior. The men were driving in an armored vehicle when it was targeted by unknown assailants who detonated the IED as they passed. The injured men were taken to a local hospital and authorities were combing the area for evidence and to locate those responsible. [Ahram Online, AMAY, 10/17/2015]

Two bombs detonate near polling station in Kerdasa
Two bombs detonated in front of a school hosting a polling station on the first day of parliamentary elections on Sunday. Bomb squads reporting to the scene concluded that the explosives were “sound” bombs—not conventional explosives—meant to disorient and confuse and did not affect the election process. Meanwhile, three bombs were defused in two provinces on Sunday, including two in Giza and one outside a polling station in Fayoum. Unidentified assailants also opened fire from a four-wheel drive vehicle on Sunday, shooting at security forces deployed at a polling station in Al-Ayat, Giza. The forces responded by firing back at the vehicle, which then flipped over. The gunmen escaped and no injuries were reported. A statement by the Interior Ministry said that the violence was unrelated to the elections. [DNE, 10/18/2015]


Egypt’s Shoukry, Putin envoy agree on ‘activating political solution in Syria’
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Mikhail Bogdanov, the Special Envoy of the Russian President held “extensive” talks on Saturday reflecting the “compatibility” of the visions each state holds concerning the Syrian crisis. The two discussed the importance of solving the Syrian issue from its roots by “activating the political solution” as stipulated in the Geneva II Conference, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. They also talked about the importance of confronting terrorist organizations, which is an “important step” towards the political solution. Bogdanov reiterated to Shoukry that his country is targeting terrorist groups, not forces opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Egypt said that the Russian strikes are “consistent” with the efforts of the US-led coalition to fight Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) fighters in Iraq and Syria and continues to support Russia’s actions, which have been vocally opposed by both regional and major Western powers. [Aswat Masriya 10/18/2015]

Palestinian issue will be Egypt’s priority in Security Council
The Palestinian issue will be Egypt’s top priority in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Ambassador and Assistant Foreign Minister Hisham Badr stated Thursday. After announcing Egypt’s election as a UN nonpermanent security member and securing a two-year seat with 179 votes, Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said Egypt will work “vigorously” to support African and Arab priorities at the Security Council. Shoukry met with President of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft and discussed issues of concern to Egypt that are on the General Assembly’s Agenda. According to Abu Zeid, they discussed the Palestinian issue and the significant role of the General Assembly in addressing the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. He mentioned the Security Council’s inability to act in the face of veto power. He stated that Egypt seeks to improve the world’s view of Arab and African countries by not only making the Palestinian issue a top priority at the UNSC, but also by taking substantial strides toward effectively solving the conflicts in Yemen, Syria, and Libya. Abu Zeid also said, “Egypt will strive to support and promote peace and security across the globe and uphold the principles of the UN charter.” [DNE, 10/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • World Bank and African Fund visit Egypt to negotiate loans | Ahram Online
  • 1,814 Palestinians pass through Rafah as border opens for one day | DNE
  • UN organizes Nile celebration to raise awareness on sustainable development | Egypt Independent
  • Trade Minister in London for talks with major British companies | SIS
  • Shoukry heads to international conference in Greece | DNE