Egyptians will vote on a draft constitution on Tuesday and Wednesday in a referendum seen by the interim government as a stepping stone towards democracy, but by opponents as illegitimate. 


National Council for Human Rights: Alaa Abdel-Fattah, jailed activists denied lawyer
The National Council for Human Rights formed a committee on Saturday to ensure the implementation of minimum standard regulations of prisoner treatment following complaints of ill-treatment by imprisoned activists Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel, Ahmed Douma, and Alaa Abdel Fattah. The committee visited the four activists in Tora Prison, and issued a report on Sunday detailing their “suffering” under detainment and asking the ministry of interior to end its mistreatment of detainees. The four men have not been allowed to meet with their lawyers since they were arrested. Some of them were also barred from calling or meeting their family members, “in spite of it being allowed by the prison’s bylaws.” [DNE, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 1/14/2014]

Also of Interest:
Independent count reports 21,317 arrested since Morsi’s ouster | DNE
Egypt’s General prosecution refers 1,211 ‘Brotherhood’ members to criminal court | Ahram Online


Violence on first day of referendum leaves up to seven dead
Egyptians will vote on a draft constitution on Tuesday and Wednesday in a referendum seen by the interim government as a stepping stone towards democracy, but by opponents as illegitimate. Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy issued a statement that the constitution is going smoothly without incidents, but incidents of violence and clashes have marked the first day of voting. A medical source told Ahram Online that the death toll was at seven with, with four killed in Upper Egypt’s Sohag, two in Giza’s Nahiya district and one in Beni Suef. Only five of the deaths have been officially confirmed. One person was shot dead during clashes between demonstrators protesting against the referendum and police forces outside a polling station in Beni Suef. Four Muslim Brotherhood supporters were shot dead and twenty were injured when security forces dispersed a demonstration they organized against the constitutional referendum in Upper Egypt’s Sohag. A handmade bomb exploded by Giza’s Imbaba courthouse just before polls opened. In Fayoum, masked gunmen on a motorcycle fired shots at the back entrance of the Archangel Michael Church. Sharqiya security services have confronted several marches by Morsi supporters attempting to hinder the referendum process. [Aswat Masriya, DNE, 1/14/2014]

Mixed responses from observers
Elections watchdog Shayfeencom announced Monday in a statement that the Supreme Electoral Commission rejected more than sixty percent of the organization’s requests for observers’ permits. The statement described the decision as drastically reducing the organization’s ability to oversee the referendum which may reflect the “commission’s refusal to promote transparency in the new government”. On the other hand, Observers without Borders reported a positive political atmosphere characterized by confidence, and social and popular support for the constitutional referendum is prevalent after conducting initial observations. The statement by the human rights group noted the eagerness of Egyptians to take part in the referendum. It also mentioned security preparations by police and military forces, as they began to secure polling stations twenty-four hours before voting commencement, in an effort to deter violence and encourage people to participate. [DNE, SIS, 1/14/2014]

Also of interest:
Egyptians vote in constitutional referendum seen boosting Sisi  | Reuters
Sabbahy could not vote in referendum due to database error | Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
Dar al-Ifta: Hindering referendum ‘great sin’ | Egypt Independent
In Pictures: Voting on referendum begins | DNE


US Congress could move to ease the way for more aid to Egypt
The House and Senate are set to unveil a year-long spending bill that will loosen restrictions on US aid to Egypt and negate the law that prevents the United States from funding a foreign military that has conducted a coup against a democratically elected government. President Barack Obama’s administration has been lobbying Congress for permission to give the aid to the Egyptian government. Congress unveiled the omnibus spending bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2014 on Monday. Following that certification, Congress would allow Obama to give the Egyptian government $250 million in economic support. Obama could give the Egyptian military $1.3 billion in two installments: $975 million after Egypt holds its constitutional referendum and $576.8 million after presidential and parliamentary elections. [The Wire, Daily Beast, 1/14/2014]

Also of interest:
Egyptian stocks index hits highest level since 2011 revolution | Ahram Online
Cabinet to buy 55,000 tons of wheat from US | Egypt Independent
EgyptAir losses drop in 2012-2013 | Egypt Independent
UAE plans more charge-free butane shipments to Egypt | Egypt Independent


Students arrested for protesting the constitutional referendum
Ministry of Interior spokesman General Hany Abdel Latif announced Monday that twenty-nine students were arrested in Sunday’s clashes in Cairo. Among the arrested were two detained from clashes at Cairo University with fireworks and Molotov cocktails in their possession. On Monday, Students Against the Coup (SAC) protested in several universities as part of what they have coined the “Week of Student Rage.” Another six students were arrested at Ain Shams University on Monday while protesting on campus in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and against the upcoming constitutional referendum. Security forces claimed the detainees confessed that they intended to use weapons during their protest. [DNE, Mada Masr, 1/14/2014]


British Parliamentary delegation meets interior minister
A British parliamentary delegation from the ruling Conservative Party met with Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim on Sunday. The delegation also met with Foreign Ministry Assistant for European Affairs Hatem Seif al-Nasr. The delegation condemned the “terrorist attacks that target policemen and innocent citizens.” Ibrahim told the delegation during the meeting that the Muslim Brotherhood has been carrying out attacks to obstruct voters from participating in the constitutional referendum. The conferees also discussed the bilateral relationships between Egypt and United Kingdom. [DNE, 1/14/2014]