Top News: US concerned over Egypt’s “climate of impunity”

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The United States expressed concern on Tuesday about growing political polarization in its major ally Egypt and a "climate of impunity" over abuses by police and security forces in the most populous Arab nation.


National dialogue postponed; Strong Egypt suspends participation 
The opposition Strong Egypt Party said Wednesday it is pulling out of President Mohamed Morsi’s national dialogue. Al Jazeera reported that the party, led by former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, said the president is not serious enough about the talks, which were slated to convene Wednesday but have been postponed. Nonetheless,
the Presidency announced on Wednesday that it continues all efforts for expanding the participation of all national and political powers in the coming round of the national dialogue.
The Presidency, according to a statement, is having contacts with all active political powers to attend the coming round of the dialogue. [Egypt Independent, SIS, 2/13/2013]

FJP election list to exclude most former MPs
The Muslim Brotherhood will exclude 80 percent of its former parliamentarians from upcoming elections for the House of Representatives, according to the website of its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party. The party is “very carefully” reviewing its electoral lists for the next polls, and will nominate only 20 percent of former MPs, Helmy al-Gazzar, the FJP’s Giza office chairman said Wednesday. He noted that candidates would be selected based on efficiency and expertise. [Egypt Independent, 2/13/2013]

Egypt govt to facilitate return of ‘fleeing’ businessmen
A new ‘reconcilement law’ is expected to speed up the return of businessmen who fled Egypt due to corruption allegations, giving them immunity from imprisonment or travel restrictions, according to judicial ministry officials. "The law will encourage businessmen to settle their financial disputes," said Sherif Omar, head of the legislative committee at the justice ministry.
Businessmen who have already been convicted of offences will be subject to retrials without being legally bound to attend the trials, he added. [Ahram Online, Ahram (Arabic), 2/13/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt culture minister retracts resignation | Ahram Online
ElBaradei says political gridlock blocking recovery | Egypt Independent
FJP to begin nominations for Cairo party secretary on Thursday | Ahram (Arabic)


Professor accused of threatening NSF members released on bail
Mahmoud Shabaan, the al-Azhar professor who issued a religious declaration permitting the killing of National Salvation Front members, has been ordered released on LE5,000 bail. The Public Prosecution has charged Shabaan with inciting the murder of NSF leaders after Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah ordered an investigation. Dozens of the supporters of Shabaan gathered in front of the Public Prosecution in Cairo to express solidarity with him, raising banners reading, "We want an Islamic state" and "No to harassment and rape." [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Watan (Arabic), 2/13/2013]

Public Prosecution detains 21 over Monday clashes
The Public Prosecution in Heliopolis ordered 21 suspects detained Tuesday after clashes between protesters and security forces in front of the Ettehadiya Presidential Palace. The demonstrations had erupted Monday evening to mark the second anniversary of former President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. The office ordered police to investigate the suspects, who face charges of rioting and assaulting security forces. Those arrested have denied all charges and said police arrested them randomly. [Egypt Independent, 2/13/2013]

Several Administrative Court hearings on Tuesday
The Administrative Court has transferred a lawsuit against using live ammunition in protests to state commissioners for a detailed legal report on Tuesday. According to Activist Alaa Abdel Fatah, the lawsuit was filed by activist Malek Moustafa in an attempt to ban the use of live ammunition including birdshot, blades, and tear gas canisters during protests, as they endanger the Egyptian protesters. Chief of Judiciary Administrative Courts Fareed Tanagho also referred a case to the court on Tuesday against President Mohamed Morsi, which called for “the abolition of dismissing former General Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud and appointing General Tala’at Abdallah” to state commissioners for a detailed legal report. Chief Judge Tanagho attended another hearing on Tuesday regarding a lawsuit demanding redistricting electoral circles across the country. [DNE, 2/12/2013]

Also of Interest:
Mubarak’s PM, Interior Minister granted retrial in corruption case | Ahram Online
Sabry military trial postponed seventh time | DNE
Egypt court jails Israeli for two years: court sources | Reuters/Egypt Independent


Egypt Islamists say clerics must approve IMF loan 
Egypt’s main hardline Islamist party says an IMF loan agreement requires the approval of a body of Muslim scholars under the new constitution and it is considering legal action to make sure the government sticks to the law. The case could set a marker on the extent to which clerics will have a say over state affairs according to the Islamist-tinged constitution that was signed into law in December following its approval in a referendum. [Reuters, 2/12/2013]

Egypt Pound Decline Accelerates After Ramez Attack, Moody’s Cut

The Egyptian pound weakened the most this month as domestic security deteriorated and Moody’s Investors Service cut the country’s credit rating because of political turmoil. Masked gunmen attacked Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez’s car this morning, killing a police guard. The incident highlights the lack of security two years after the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak. Ramez wasn’t in the vehicle, he said by phone today. Moody’s cut Egypt’s rating yesterday to B3, six levels below investment grade, citing civil unrest and last month’s biggest drop in foreign reserves in a year. [Bloomberg, Egypt Independent, DNE, Ahram Online, 2/13/2013]

Egypt govt struggles with ongoing diesel fuel shortages
In queues often hundreds of metres long, trucks, tractors and microbuses can be seen outside gas stations across Egypt waiting to fill up on diesel fuel. "I’ve been waiting here for six hours," lamented Mahmoud, a microbus driver waiting on line in 6 October City, west of Cairo. Apart from time lost, drivers complain about the emergence of a black market in which a litre of diesel is sold at double the normal price. Many say they are buying 20-litre jerry cans of the commodity for between LE40 and LE50, as compared to the usual LE20 (roughly $3). Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Osama Kamal on Tuesday attributed the crisis to smuggling activities, stressing there was "no shortage" of diesel fuel. [Ahram Online, Reuters, 2/12/2013]

Also of Interest:

Egyptian exports grow 12% in January | DNE
Suez Canal revenue slides 9% in January on Egypt political violence | Ahram Online


Policemen protest for ministry reform
Policemen protested on Tuesday in front of security directorate buildings in several governorates demanding reform. They rejected the policies of the Ministry of Interior that turned them into players on the political field, stating that these policies put them on the frontlines of the confrontations between protesters and the regime. Protesters chanted against Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim and demanded his resignation. [DNE, AMAY (Arabic), 2/12/2013]

Egypt’s central bank governor robbed at gunpoint

The governor of Egypt’s central bank, Hisham Ramez, has been robbed at gunpoint at his home in Sixth October City. Ramez was waiting for the car to take him to his office in downtown Cairo when the armed assailants attacked, al-Ahram Arabic website reported. The car was stolen and the governor’s official guard was killed. Ramez, who was not in the vehicle at the time, told al-Arabiya satellite channel the carjacking was not an assassination attempt. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 2/13/2013]

Also of Interest:
174 police killed since Jan 25 Revolution: Interior ministry | Ahram Online


Egypt activist Gendy died after car crash, not torture: Doctor
An Egyptian activist whose death provoked violent protests was killed in a car crash and was not tortured to death by police, a senior forensic official said on Tuesday. Security sources said he was taken to a state security camp, interrogated and tortured, drawing parallels with the brutal tactics used by Mubarak’s henchmen during his rule. The interior ministry had already denied the accusations saying Gendy was hit by a car on January 28, and taken to Cairo’s Hilal hospital where he died some days later. That account was backed up by the assistant of Egypt’s top forensic doctor, Emad al-Deib, who told Egypt’s al-Hayat channel on Tuesday: "The forensic report confirmed that the death of Mohamed al-Gendy was due to a car accident and dismissed he was subjected to any torture." The Cairo-based Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) has called for an immediate investigation into the death of Mohamed al-Gendy. [Reuters, Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic), 2/12/2013]

Sit-in at Ain Sokhna port continues despite army negotiations
Ain Sokhna port remains shut on Tuesday, with all operations suspended, as port workers continued their sit-in for a thirteenth day, following failed negotiations with army leaders.
Around 1,200 workers at Platinum Maritime Services – a subcontractor at the seaport – launched a sit-in two weeks ago, demanding permanent contracts with the private Dubai-based company that manages the port, DP World.
Ahram Online

ANHRI condemns attack on journalists, Popular Current calls for protest against media crackdown
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned last Sunday’s attack on journalists by state-run al-Ahram security personnel on Wednesday. The journalists held a meeting with the chairman of al-Ahram’s board of directors Mamdouh al-Wali to discuss a solution surrounding the current newspaper crisis in Egypt last Saturday. ANHRI said the protesters were originally there to discuss how to deal with the problems that arose from the closure of newspapers and the loss in salaries, as well as the promised allowances by the Press Syndicate for those who had lost their jobs and relocation of employment to other state-run newspapers. ANHRI’s statement comes at the same time as the Popular Current Party’s call for a protest outside the Bulaq Abul Ela Public Prosecution office next Sunday. The demonstration is a show of support for eight members of the media who have been summoned for questioning over their involvement in a Maspero protest for better wages last year.[Egypt Independent, DNE, 2/12/2013]

Also of Interest:
Al-Azhar seeks rapprochement with Vatican as pope steps down | Egypt Independent
Protesters block roads and rails in push for better security | Egypt Independent
Thousands worldwide protest sexual assault on female Egypt demonstrators | Ahram Online, DNE


US concerned over Egypt’s "climate of impunity" 
The United States expressed concern on Tuesday about growing political polarization in its major ally Egypt and a "climate of impunity" over abuses by police and security forces in the most populous Arab nation. At a news conference after a four-day visit, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Democracy and Labour Michael Posner avoided direct criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of President Mohamed Morsi. But he said young people’s economic and political concerns, which had led to recent violent protests, should be addressed, and the government should "reach out widely" to other political and social forces and hold consultations on concerns about the Islamist-tinged constitution it pushed through in December. [Reuters/Egypt Independent, DNE, 2/13/2013]

Egyptian Nasserist defends controversial visit to Syria’s Al-Assad
An Egyptian Nasserist Party (ENP) delegation has stirred controversy by visiting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. “Our visit to Syria in support of Bashar Al-Assad came out of our genuine intention to back the resistance against American and Zionist plans in the region,” Farouq El-Eshri, co-founder of the ENP told Al-Ahram Arabic website. The delegation had no intention of meeting with the Syrian opposition at the moment, he added. The delegation included Ahmed Hassan, secretary general of the Arab Democratic Nasserist Party, Ibrahim Badrawy, head of the Movement of the Egyptian Left, and media personality Ihab Hassan. The agency quoted Hassan telling Syrian parliament speaker Mohamed Jihad al-Lahham that the Syrian conflict had nothing to with the Arab Spring. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 2/12/2012]

Egypt floods Gaza tunnels to cut Palestinian lifeline
Egyptian forces have flooded smuggling tunnels under the border with the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip in a campaign to shut them down, Egyptian and Palestinian officials said. The network of tunnels is a vital lifeline for Gaza, bringing in an estimated 30 percent of all goods that reach the enclave and circumventing a blockade imposed by Israel for more than seven years. An Egyptian security official in the Sinai told Reuters the campaign started five days ago. [Reuters/Egypt Independent, 2/13/2013]

Also of Interest:
Libya to shut Egypt, Tunis borders for anniversary | Egypt Independent
Egypt-Iran trade could reach $30 bn in 10 years: Ahmadinejad | Ahram Online

Photo: Reuters

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