Top News: Voting Underway in Egypt for Second Stage of Parliamentary Elections

Polling stations opened in thirteen Egyptian governorates on Sunday, including Cairo, for two days of voting in the second stage of the 2015 parliamentary elections. Ahram Online reported that the first day went smoothly, with turnout fluctuating depending on the polling station, with rankings between below average and high. Many who abstained, however, said they felt the polls offered little genuine choice in the absence of the main opposition Muslim Brotherhood and other critics and that parliament would change little in lives dominated by the struggle to earn a living. The number of Egyptian votes abroad increased by 22 percent in the second stage compared to the first, Deputy Foreign Minister for Elections Abroad Hamdi Loza said in a statement Monday. According to Loza, 37,168 voters cast their ballots abroad. Cairo’s Deputy Governor for the Northern area said turnout was above average and that more participation is expected Monday. Egyptians working in the public sector were also given half of the day off on Sunday and Monday to allow them to vote. In parts of North Sinai governorate, where the army is fighting an Islamist insurgency in some areas, the curfew was shortened to start at 11pm instead of 7pm in order to facilitate voting. North Sinai-based journalist Ahmed Abu Deraa was arrested on the eve of voting while covering elections preparations at a polling station, and transferred to military detention. Another two journalists were prevented from covering the elections on Sunday, one by security forces, and the other by supporters of a candidate. Three other journalists were arrested while covering the elections, and later released, in Helwan and Ismailia according to Journalists Against Torture. The High Elections Committee (HEC) banned privately-owned al-Faraeen, Sada al-Balad, and CBC from broadcasting anything pertaining the elections due to electoral violations in their coverage during the first round. The statement said they were only allowed to broadcast live coverage of the elections and host public political figures. By Sunday afternoon, the HEC announced that it had received 141 complaints in the first hours of voting, including delays in the opening of at least ninety-three polling stations or outdated information on the locations of polling stations. Other violations included group-voting, vote buying, busing voters to polling stations, and distributing food. [Ahram Online, AP, Reuters, DNE, 11/23/2015]


Prosecution appeals decision to release of Mohamed Mahmoud detainees on bail
Prosecutors refused to release thirteen protesters detained Thursday during the fourth anniversary of Mohamed Mahmoud, despite a judicial order Sunday for their release on EGP 10,000 bail each. The appeal will be viewed in court on Monday. The thirteen protesters were arrested during a peaceful rally on November 19 to commemorate the anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes with police in 2011. The demonstration was held on a sidewalk along the Sixth of October Bridge, involving around 100 young activists. Nine of the thirteen who were detained are still in custody at the Qasr al-Nil Police Station near downtown Cairo. Another four are being held at Abdeen Police Station. Prosecutors charged the detainees with protesting without permission, taking part in an illegal assembly, and obstructing traffic. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 11/22/2015]

State Council approves appeal on NGOs law
The State Council accepted an appeal on Sunday by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) contesting the constitutionality of a few articles of the NGOs law 84/2002, the center announced in an official statement on Sunday. A final verdict will be issued in February 2016. The ECESR said it is currently preparing to present the appeal reasoning to the Supreme Constitutional Court in January 2016. According to ECESR lawyer Kareem Ezzat, the contested articles allow administrative entities to dissolve civil society organizations, which according the ECESR contradicts Article 75 of the 2014 Constitution that places restrictions on dissolving or interfering in any affairs related to civil society organizations by any authority except for the judiciary. [DNE, 11/22/2015]

Complaint filed against Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh for insulting the president
Alexandria prosecution opened an investigation Sunday into complaints filed against former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh for insulting the president and inciting people to undermine state institutions. The complaint, filed by lawyer Tarek Mahmoud, also accused Aboul Fotouh of belonging to a terrorist organization. Mahmoud said Aboul Fotouh is used as a “tool to execute the international Muslim Brotherhood organization’s instructions,” state-owned Al-Ahram reported, citing his interviews with the media, in which Mahmoud asserted he was following the group’s instructions. The investigation comes after, in an interview on BBC Arabic on Thursday, Aboul Fotouh reiterated his calls for holding early presidential elections, claiming “mismanagement” on political, economic and social levels. [Mada Masr, 11/23/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Challenge to April 6 Movement ban adjourned to February 21 | Cairo Post
  • Fifty-six journalists probed over embezzlement | Cairo Post
  • NGO wins court ruling over free treatment of Gaucher’s disease | Egypt Independent


Siemens secures first financing for Egypt power plant project
Egypt has secured a first tranche of financing for an EUR 8 billion plan for power plants to be built by Siemens. A consortium of banks has agreed to supply credit for the Beni Suef natural gas-fired combined cycle power plant, the first of three planned plants, a spokesman for Siemens said Monday. Two agreements worth EUR 2 billion in total were signed by Siemens and El Sewedy Electric, according to Egypt’s Electricity Ministry. The project is expected to start operations in 2016, with full production by April 2018. Siemens signed the deal with Egypt in June to establish three high-efficiency natural gas power plants and wind power installations. The deal is designed to boost Egypt’s electricity generation by 50 percent. [Reuters, Ahram Online, 11/22/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Dabaa nuclear plant unlikely to cause environmental damage say experts | DNE
  • Orascom Construction reports Q3 net income of $24.5 million | Reuters
  • Egypt-listed Sawiris’s OTMT down after losing full control of North Korean subsidiary | Ahram Online
  • $500 million of foreign partners’ dues to be paid by the end of 2015 says official source | DNE
  • Egypt’s stock market inches up on first day of phase two of parliamentary elections | Aswat Masriya
  • Exporters react to tightened US restrictions on airborne imports from Egypt | AMAY
  • Air transport agents expect major losses after banning transport of goods on passenger aircrafts | DNE
  • Egypt expects tourist numbers to drop by 13 percent, compared to last year | Aswat Masriya
  • Tourism in Khan al-Khalili drops to 20 percent after Russian plane crash | AMAY
  • Kuwait finances electrical line between Egypt, Saudi Arabia with EGP 750 million loan | AMAY
  • NBE, Banque Misr collect EGP 45.4 billion in ten days from certificates | DNE
  • Banque Misr launches ‘fast cash’ for savings clients | DNE
  • Egypt issues $1.77 billion of one-year treasury bills at average yield of 2.837 percent | Reuters
  • As the economy falters, Egypt’s police launch a ‘war on prices’ | Al Monitor


Egypt’s Sisi reiterates importance of fighting radicalism to Muslim Council of Elders
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met in Cairo Saturday with members of the Muslim Council of Elders to underline the role of al-Azhar—the highest institution in Sunni Islam—in fighting radicalism, the Egyptian presidency announced. According to Egyptian Presidential Spokesperson Alaa Youssef, Sisi stressed during his meeting with members of the council the urgency for Muslims to stand united in order to face terrorism. The Muslim Council of Elders is an international independent organization made up of mostly Sunni Muslim scholars. The council consists of thirteen Sunni scholars and Sheikhs and one Shia scholar from Lebanon. [Ahram Online, 11/22/2015]

Report shows Egypt among ten worst countries for gender equality
Egypt ranked 136th out of 145 countries in gender equality in the world after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Report. This year marks a decline in the status of women, as Egypt ranked 129th out of 142 countries according to the Global Gender Gap index in 2014, and 125th out of 136 countries in 2013. Egypt ranks the worst in political empowerment of women (136), with no progress in regards to political empowerment since 2006. On the three remaining thresholds, Egypt ranks 125 on economic participation and opportunity, 115 on education attainment, and 97 on health and survival. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 11/22/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Doctors mourn Dahlia Mehrez, demand infection allowance increase | DNE
  • Shorouk newspaper journalists continue strike | AMAY
  • PR company ‘whitewashed’ Egypt’s rights record before March summit | Egypt Independent
  • Deceased conscript’s family rejects Interior Ministry’s suicide claim | AMAY
  • Immigration Minister vows to help family of Egyptian victim of Paris attacks | AMAY
  • ANHRI appeals to prosecutors over violations against NGO director | Egypt Independent
  • NGOs says suspended TV anchor should have access to investigation | Egypt Independent
  • Al-Azhar head says terrorism uses religion as front | Reuters
  • A female bodyguard fending off more than just harassers | Aswat Masriya
  • School in Heliopolis seized for alleged Brotherhood affiliation | Aswat Masriya


Four security personnel killed, four injured in North Sinai attacks
An improvised explosive device (IED) killed a policeman on Monday in North Sinai’s Sheikh Zuweid as parliamentary polls opened in the troubled governorate for the second and final day of voting. The IED exploded while a patrol vehicle was passing through Abu-Taweel area. Two conscripts were also injured. In a separate incident, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm, an army officer and two soldiers were killed, and two others injured, when an Armed Forces vehicle was targeted in an explosion at the al-Mahdeya checkpoint in Rafah City. [Ahram Online, 11/23/2015


Egypt’s Sisi talks counterterrorism efforts, military relations with US congressional delegation
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met on Saturday with a US delegation in Cairo to discuss counterterrorism efforts and continued military relations between the two countries, the Egyptian presidency announced in a statement. The delegation, representing the US Congress, was headed by Congressman Rob Wittman, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Readiness, according to Egyptian presidency spokesperson Alaa Youssef. US Ambassador to Cairo Robert Beecroft and Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also attended the meeting. Sisi praised the resumption in March of US military aid to Egypt, which was temporarily halted following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in 2013, and emphasized the importance of the US-Egypt military relationship. Youssef said that members of the congressional delegation highlighted Egypt’s role in maintaining safety and security in the Middle East, especially considering the challenges and crises facing the region. The US previously delivered eight F-16 aircraft to Egypt in July and another four in October to complete a deliver of twenty aircraft to Egypt as part of its military aid package. Also in October, the United States agreed to the resumption of M1A1 military tank production in Egypt. Additionally, Sisi discussed with the US delegation Egypt’s commitment to establishing the foundations of a modern state that upholds the rule of law, and nurtures the values of democracy and social solidarity. [Ahram Online, SIS, Mada Masr, Cairo Post, 11/21/2015]

Egypt’s Foreign Minister dismisses notion of possible Russian military intervention in Sinai
In an interview with privately-owned CBC TV station, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry dismissed the notion of possible Russian military intervention against those responsible for bringing down a Russian airliner over the peninsula in late October. Shoukry said that Russian and Egyptian cooperation in the fight against terrorism would continue and take several forms, including the exchange of intelligence. The interview comes nearly a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia will act in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, which permits countries who are attacked to defend themselves in a direct way. Shoukry also brushed aside reports that Russia sent security personnel to secure the Russian embassy in Cairo. Shoukry responded by saying “Egypt is a sovereign state. Article 51 does not apply to a country that enjoys sovereignty, has a legitimate government, and has a security apparatus that is able to fulfill its mission responsibly.” He also denied reports that Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States provided intelligence to the Egyptian state that confirmed the Russian plane was ripped apart by an improvised explosive device. The Egypt-led international committee investigating the crash has received all video footage taken by devices at Sharm al-Sheikh airport and will hand “any criminal evidence” over to the state’s top prosecutor, according to Hossam Kamal, Egypt’s Minister of Civil Aviation. Meanwhile, on Friday Russian news agency Interfax reported, unconfirmed by Egyptian officials, that Egypt will issue a tentative report on the airliner crash by December. Egypt’s investigation into the crash received criticism from former Egyptian vice president Mohamed ElBaradei, saying that the UN had already stated the Islamic State’s (ISIS or ISIL) responsibility for the act. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya 11/22/2015]                

Five Sudanese migrants killed in Sinai; Sudanese national tortured in Egypt
Egyptian-Sudanese relations have been strained in the past few days over treatment of Sudanese expatriates in Egypt. The Sudanese embassy in Cairo said an elderly Sudanese man was assaulted on November 22 in Cairo’s Abdeen polling station where he was detained over charges of illegal currency exchange. Sudanese national Yehia Zakaria was assaulted and tortured by policemen, who also seized all his money, Sudanese media reported. Sudanese citizens have since turned to social media to demand that Egyptians leave Sudan and have called for boycotting all Egyptian products. However, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stated Friday that no discrimination against Sudanese expatriates in Egypt, saying “All Egyptian and Sudanese are equal before the law.” Sudanese Justice Minister Awad Hassan al-Nour, meanwhile, was in Cairo Monday to meet with Egypt’s General Prosecutor Nabil Sadeq and his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed al-Zend for talks. The Sudanese Embassy in Cairo announced on Sunday evening that it would also dispatch a committee to North Sinai to investigate the killing of undocumented Sudanese migrants who were attempting to cross into Israel. Egyptian border forces shot dead five Sudanese migrants trying to cross from Egypt’s turbulent North Sinai region into Israel on Monday, the military said in a statement. On November 15, Egyptian police found the bodies of fifteen African migrants believed to be Sudanese who appeared to have been shot dead in the same region. [Cairo Post, AP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 11/23/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Heads of Egypt, Cyprus and Greece to meet in December presidential summit | Ahram Online
  • Shoukry, Korean officials discuss economic collaboration in various fields | DNE
  • Kuwait to launch new direct flights to Egypt’s Sharm al-Sheikh in December | Ahram Online, MENA
  • Egypt requested postponement of tripartite meeting on Ethiopian dam | MENA
  • Tenth round of tripartite talks on Ethiopian dam expected in end of November | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s Foreign Minister to begin one-week Asian tour | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Body of Egyptian victim of Paris attacks arrives home | Ahram Online, AMAY
  • Fifteen Egyptian fishermen released in Libya | AMAY
  • Grand Mufti adviser calls on US community to prevent hatred toward Muslims | AMAY
  • Egypt’s Al-Azhar condemns Mali attack as ‘callous and terrorist’ | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Egypt Foreign Ministry condemns Qaeda terrorist attack in Mali | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Pope Tawadros II meets US International Religious Freedom Ambassador | Cairo Post