Top News: US Ambassador – Egypt’s foreign reserves at critical low

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Saying that "Egypt’s numbers paint a bleak picture," US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson said that the country must focus on its citizens’ economic needs. 


PM asks NCW to draft bill fighting violence against women
Prime Minister Hesham Qandil asked the National Council for Women (NCW) to quickly finish drafting a law to protect women from violence, which the council promised to finish within a month, said Insurance and Social Affairs Minister Nagwa Khalil. The government, she added, is considering a special proposal made by the Interior Ministry to develop special legislation to combat harassment. The NCW is receiving reports from women who have been harassed to file a lawsuit against the government. The statement was made by Mervat Tallawi, head of the NCW, who thanked the women who were courageous enough to report harassments. The Shura Council’s Human Rights Committee called for designating women’s areas for demonstrations with some MPs accusing women of placing themselves in harm’s way. [Egypt Independent, DNE, EGYNews (Arabic), ONA (Arabic), 2/9/2013]

National Conscience Front: We aim to prevent ‘reproduction’ of old regime

Leading political figures affiliated with the Freedom and Justice Party’s newly-formed National Conscience Front have said that the group is aiming to prevent a “reproduction” of former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. In a press conference Saturday at al-Sawy Culture Wheel, members of the front also called for cooperation to end “violence and sabotage.” Former Minister of Legal Affairs and Parliamentary Councils Mohamed Mahsoub, a member of the Islamist Wasat Party, said that the front’s founders do not represent a specific party or trend, but rather seek to preserve the revolution. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE, 2/10/2013]

Al-Akhbar: Qandil’s Cabinet may be replaced
There is a “strong push”  to dismiss the current Cabinet led by Prime Minister Hesham Qandil who took office after President Mohamed Morsi’s election in July 2012, state-run al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Monday. The paper cited unknown sources as saying that the Nour Party’s leadership asked Morsi during a meeting two days ago to quickly remove the current Cabinet and appoint a new one, while also reporting that senior Dostour Party member and international law professor Hossam Eissa may be named as Qandil’s replacement. [Egypt Independent, 2/11/2013]

Opposition to presidency opens rifts in Egypt’s Islamist current
The escalating conflict between Egypt’s political opposition and the administration of President Mohamed Morsi has also led to widening gaps within the Islamist current itself. Some Islamist groups, who had backed Morsi in the past, have now begun to question the policies of Egypt’s first Muslim Brotherhood president. For example, when Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya’s Construction and Development Party called for mass rallies last month to support the president in response to mass demonstrations organised by the opposition, few Islamist parties answered the call. The Salafist Nour Party, Egypt’s second biggest Islamist movement after the Brotherhood, was the first to refuse the call, arguing that, "while the party supports the legitimacy of the president, it is not the right time for demonstrating." [Ahram Online, 2/11/2013]

Also of Interest:
President’s public approval ratings fall to 53 percent | Egypt Independent, Ahram Online
Presidential spokesman: President didn’t accept or refuse re-formation of Government | SIS
New agreement to combat corruption | DNE
Muslim Brotherhood denies torturing political activists | DNE
Moussa: National Salvation Front respects Morsi’s legitimacy | Egypt Independent
Nour Party says president considers national consensus initiative | Egypt Independent, DNE
Health Ministry: One killed, 211 injured in nationwide clashes, arrest of activists | Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE


New complaints raised against Morsi
Port Said Lawyers’ Syndicate head Safwat Abdel Hameid filed on Saturday a complaint against President Mohamed Morsi and leading figures in the Ministry of Interior, accusing them of killing protesters of Port Said. Abdel Hameid and lawyer Ashraf al-Ezaby filed complaints to Port Said’s prosecution authority against Morsi, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim, and Head of Port Said’s Security Directorate Mohsen Rady, in addition to other officials at the Central Security Forces (CSF) department. [DNE, 2/10/2013]

Public Prosecution: No evidence implicating Morsi in protester deaths

The Public Prosecution said on Sunday that there was no evidence implicating President Mohamed Morsi in the killings of protesters in front of Ettehadiya Palace or in any other part of the country. Public Prosecution Spokesperson Mostafa Dowidar said during a press conference held in his office that all reports and complaints filed with prosecutors are being investigated in accordance with the law. Dowidar added that the Public Prosecution has no evidence against the president, saying that violence during riots was out of the president’s control. [Egypt Independent, DNE, 2/10/2013]

Egypt court bans YouTube for a month
Egypt’s administrative court on Saturday ordered the ban of YouTube in the country for a month for not removing the controversial anti-Islam film, The Innocence of Islam. The court’s verdict also applies to any website that aided in the sharing of the 13-minute film. The lawsuit was filed in September by Egyptian attorney Hamed Salem amid rage and protests across the Muslim world where hundreds were injured in Egypt after a film mocking the prophet Mohamed was shared on social networks. YouTube said in a short statement, “We have received nothing from the judge or government related to this matter.” [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, 2/9/2013]

Also of Interest:
Appeal against Battle of Camel acquittals’ verdict in May | Ahram Online
Shura Council nullification lawsuit adjourned to 3 March | Egypt Independent, SIS
Alaa and Gamal stock exchange case adjourned to 10 March | Egypt Independent, DNE
ElBaradei Lawyers’ Syndicate membership criticised | DNE
26 defendants involved in Nasr City terrorist cell referred to criminal court | SIS, DNE
Al-Hosary receives suspended sentence in military trial | DNE
NoMilTrials blames police, prosecutors and judiciary for injustice | DNE


Salafi MPs consider EU loan as usury
Salafi MPs on Sunday accused the Muslim Brotherhood of accepting usury after the Shura Council approved an agreement with the European Union and European Investment Bank for funding that will be channeled into social development projects. The European Investment Bank will provide 45 million euros, while the European Commission will provide 15 million euros as a grant, and the Egyptian state institution, the Social Fund for Development, will provide 30 million euros, bringing the total to 90 million. Additionally, the economic committee of the Shura Council prepared a draft law for sukuk, which differs from a previous draft law that has been circulating previous weeks. [Egypt Independent, SIS, DNE, 2/11/2013]

Egyptians turn to black market for hard currency
A run on Egypt’s pound has left foreign currency in short supply and driven some dealers into the streets in search of people with U.S. dollars to sell, spawning a new black market.
It has officially lost 8 percent of its value since Dec. 30. Black market rates are even weaker, a sign that although the central bank managed to stem the slide in official trade last week, Egyptians are nervous about holding on to pounds. [Reuters, 2/11/2013]

Egypt’s inflation up 6.6pct in January: CAPMAS

Egypt’s consumer price index (CPI) rose by 6.6 per cent in January, year-on-year. A hike in the cost of cigarettes, electricity and vegetables drove the increase, the state-run statistics body CAPMAS reveals on Sunday. According to CAPMAS, the country’s inflation accelerated from last month, up 1.8 per cent compared to December. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 2/10/2013]

Also of Interest:
Electricity Ministry signs first Sharia-compliant contract | Egypt Independent
Egypt at risk of further credit rate downgrading | DNE
Bread rations: Three loaves per capita | DNE
Ownership banned in Suez Canal region project | Egypt Independent
Authority stops issuing new liquor licenses in new areas | Egypt Independent
PM Qandil looks to World Bank for help overhauling Egypt’s rail system | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE


Armed Forces: Bright Star joint exercise will be held in Egypt
Armed Forces Spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Ali denied a report published in Jordanian al-Ghad newspaper claiming that the joint Egypt-US military exercise "Bright Star" will be carried out in Jordan instead of Egypt because of ongoing political unrest. He added that the operation will be carried out at its scheduled date in coordination with the US. In statements to al-Masry al-Youm, he added that the Armed Forces carries out several maneuvers with Egyptian allies in order to keep officer preparedness up and in line with developments in weapons technology. [Egypt Independent, 2/10/2013]

Also of Interest:
Interior Ministry: Port Said events planned | SIS
Armed Forces deny reports on US bases in Sinai | SIS


Egypt’s new grand mufti chosen
Shawky Allam has been selected as Egypt’s new mufti, succeeding Ali Gomaa, who has occupied the post since 2003. Allam is a professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Tanta University in Gharbiya Governorate. Incumbent Mufti Gomaa will end his term in March, when he reaches the legal retirement age. There had been much speculation that Abdel Rahman al-Bar, Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau member, was the leading candidate for the post. Last week, a source from al-Azhar’s Senior Scholars Authority said that the new appointee would not be affiliated with any political trend or party. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Shorouk (Arabic), 2/11/2013]

State TV presenter interrogated for asking Qandil about torture, Dina Abdel Fattah released on bail
Information Minister Salah Abdel Maqsoud referred a state TV presenter to interrogations after the presenter asked the prime minister about dragging citizens and torturing them in the streets during a live news conference, state TV sources told al-Masry afell-Youm. State TV attempted to mute the sound when the presenter, Ahmed Abdel Aziz, raised the question with Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, who responded by telling Abdel Aziz not to watch TV too much. In a related story, Public prosecutors ordered the release of Tahrir TV Channel anchor Dina Abdel Fattah on Sunday on a bail of EGP 5,000. Abdel Fattah was being investigated along with the editor-in-chief of her programme Khairy Hussein for hosting members of the Black Bloc on her show. The report accused Abdel Fattah of promoting the “terrorist ideologies” of the Black Bloc, a group of masked vigilantes [Egypt Independent, DNE, 2/10/2013]

Popular Current marches to High Court over activist’s death

Hundreds of Popular Current members organized a march Sunday evening from Qasr al-Nil Bridge to the High Court, through Abdel Moneim Riad Square to demand retribution for the killing of Mohamed al-Gendy. Hussein Qersh, member of the Popular Current’s executive bureau, said the main objective of the demonstration is to demand punishment for those who killed Gendy, saying he died because of torture by the Interior Ministry, as well as to demand urgent retribution for all of the revolution’s martyrs.[Egypt Independent, 2/10/2013]

Egypt opposition to mark 2nd anniversary of Mubarak ouster with anti-govt rallies
Thirteen Egyptian political parties and movements have announced plans to stage mass anti-government rallies on Monday to mark the second anniversary of former president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. Protesters on Monday plan to voice their rejection of perceived repressive measures adopted by Egypt’s Islamist-led government and what the opposition sees as persistent attempts to "crush the revolution." Protesters closed the Mugamma administrative building for a second consecutive day, sometimes clashing with employees and other people attempting to access the building. Egypt’s security forces were on high alert Monday ahead of pro-democracy protests to mark the second anniversary of former president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, a police official told AFP. Authorities have boosted security around the presidential palace, the interior ministry and around Tahrir Square, as well as around key public installations, the official said. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, AFP, 2/11/2013]

Also of Interest:

Journalist Ibrahim Eissa discharged from prosecution | Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic)
Journalists Syndicate to challenge suspension of its elections | Egypt Independent
Labour unrest at Egypt’s Sokhna Port obstructs maritime cargo traffic | Ahram Online
Egyptian labour to protest ‘Brotherhoodization,’ assault on co-workers | Ahram Online
April 6 condemns interior ministry denials over ‘Jika’ killing, to sue prime minister | Ahram Online DNE


US Ambassador: Egypt’s foreign reserves at critical low
Saying that "Egypt’s numbers paint a bleak picture," US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson said that the country must focus on its citizens’ economic needs. Patterson said that currency reserves are “at a critical level, roughly US$14 billion, or three months’ worth of imports." She added that the number has held steady since July only as a result of regular cash infusions into the economy from Qatar and Turkey. She added that “for Egypt to complete its transition to a free democratic nation, it needs much more”. [Egypt Independent, Reuters, DNE, US Embassy Press Release, 2/10/2013]

Egyptian Salafist leaders plan visit to Gaza
The Palestinian Jihadist movement in Gaza announced on Saturday that Egypt’s Salafist al-Watan Party Chairman Emad Abdel-Ghafour and former presidential candidate Hazem Abu Ismail will visit the besieged strip soon. According to the movement’s Commissioner of National Relations Salem Atallah, the visit is to collaborate with their movement and stand "in solidarity with Palestinians under siege." [Ahram Online, 2/9/2013]

Also of Interest:
EU anti-terrorism coordinator to visit Egypt within days | Shorouk (Arabic)
Egyptians detained in UAE treated ‘well’: Cairo envoy | Ahram Online

Egyptian security personnel guard at the presidential palace during protests in Cairo, August 24, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

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