Egypt Media Roundup – Mar 28, 2014

03/28/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

The Rebel (“Tamarod”) campaign, which spearheaded protests against former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, on Thursday called for nationwide demonstrations in support of El-Sisi, who announced on Wednesday that he was resigning from his military position to stand for election. In contrast, the main pro-Morsi coalition, the National Alliance in Support of Legitimacy called on followers to take to the streets Friday to protest al-Sisi’s presidential candidacy announcement. [Ahram, Turkish PressRead More..

Gender & Sexuality

Rural areas in Lower and Upper Egypt have been neglected for decades, and still today are often described as “static,” and thus not worthy of much attention. Struggling also against these prejudices, Egypt’s rural women are moving forward. They don’t represent in any way a homogeneous group; they populate different areas and face different socioeconomic conditions. Still, they are in different ways and forms taking part in a process that, far from being a simple awareness about oppression, aims at finding alternatives ways of “resisting.” [The Hill

Economy

Egypt’s budget deficit shrank by 6 percent in the first eight months of the 2013/14 fiscal year as compared to the same period of the previous fiscal year, according to the finance ministry’s latest bulletin. The deficit reached LE123.6 billion ($17.7 billion) between July and February 2013, down from the LE146.5 billion ($21 billion) recorded in the first eight months of the previous fiscal year. [Bloomberg, AhramRead More.. 

Foreign Relations

The United States vowed Thursday it was not backing any particular candidate in upcoming Egyptian elections, with former Army Chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi strongly favored to win. Sisi’s candidacy is being hailed by the millions of Egyptians weary of more than three years of turmoil since the overthrow of veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak. But experts warn he is certain to continue the crackdown on Islamists that started when elected president Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July. Washington has long held an official position of non-interference in its Arab ally’s political process. [AhramRead More..

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Legal & Political Institutions

Gert Van Langendonck delves into the backstory of the judge who sentenced 529 Egyptians to death

NPR: In Egypt, Defendants Are Being Tried By The Hundreds

CS Monitor: One dead, 529 convicted: a story of judicial revenge in Egypt

The Economist: Egypt: Of judges and generals

In this article: “One percent of the town of Mattay’s population was sentenced to death on Monday, when 529 accused supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood received death sentences at the end of a 45-minute trial in nearby Minya.One resident of the dusty Upper Egypt town of 50,000 joked on Facebook this week: “Will anyone not sentenced to death in Mattay please like this status update so we can figure out how many of us are left?”

The mass sentencing has prompted a furious international outcry. A trial is where the truth is supposed to come out. But there was nothing normal about the trial that began in Minya on March 22.

In January, nine special courts were created to deal with an estimated 18,977 people arrested in the aftermath of Morsi’s removal. Each covers three provinces and is presided over by one judge. Minya got judge Saeed Youssef.

The Minya lawyers didn’t know much about Mr. Youssef, who is based in Beni Suef about 80 miles north. But they quickly discovered that early last year he acquitted Beni Suef’s chief of police and 10 policemen of the killing of 17 protesters during the initial uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Common criminals killed one of the Youssef’s sons, a policeman, during the chaotic aftermath of that revolution. “This is a personal matter for him,” says Shabeeb.”

Egypt’s political vacuum: instability, ‘republic of fear’, and a return to Mubarak-era politics

AP: In Egypt’s Political Vacuum, El-Sissi Looms Large

Global Post: What a Sisi presidency in Egypt would look like

In this article: “Former military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, if he wins Egypt’s presidency as is widely expected, will have an overwhelming presence over a shattered political scene. Egypt’s once dominant political force, the Muslim Brotherhood, is crushed under a relentless crackdown. Non-Islamist parties are weak and largely acquiescent to his power.

But the political vacuum is hardly a stable one.

Supporters of the ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi vowed Thursday to push ahead with their campaign of protests against what they called el-Sissi’s “republic of fear,” betting that over time the public will turn against el-Sissi if he fails to address the monumental challenges facing the country, including a crippled economy. Secular anti-military youth movements — who also oppose the Islamists — are also watching whether public opinion turns.

Amid that vacuum and in the absence of his own party, el-Sissi surrounded himself with politicians, technocrats and big businessmen from the era of ousted President Hosni Mubarak and has the powerful backing of the military and the security forces. That has deepened concerns his presidency would mean a return of the autocratic methods of the past that prompted the 2011 uprising against Mubarak.”

Former NDP building to be demolished, land used for museum

Egypt SIS: Cabinet decides to demolish NDP building, annex its land to Egyptian Museum

In this article: “Egypt’s Cabinet decided on Thursday to demolish the building next to the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo and annex its land to that of the museum.

The state-owned building served as the main HQ of the now dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP). The building was damaged badly when it was set to fire during the January 25 revolution.

The Cabinet’s decision to allocate this plot of land, which is worth millions by market prices, to the museum comes within the government’s keenness to preserve Egypt’s archaeological heritage.”

Sisi speaks out, reiterates that he refuses to lay down a ‘fantasy’ electoral program

Ahram: Egyptians will not accept a corrupt president: El-Sisi

In this article: “Egyptians will not accept a corrupt leader who fails to fulfill their aspirations, presidential hopeful and former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said in statements to Egyptian daily Al-Watan on Thursday.

Al-Watan quoted El-Sisi as stating that he refuses to lay down a “fantasy” electoral program, stressing his platform will be realistic and applicable in the short run and adding that it will have a positive effect on the lives of Egyptians within many aspects.

El-Sisi said the responsibility of ruling is “no picnic” and pledged to be in the people’s service, according to Al-Watan.”

Economy

UAE’s Arabtec housing program for Egypt to set up & develop 1million residential units–16million+ in Egypt have inadequate housing

The National: Arabtec Holding in talks with Egypt for joint venture on $40bn low-cost housing project  

In this article: “Arabtec Holding has begun talks with the Egyptian government towards setting up a joint venture project to build a million low-cost homes. Analysts said such a JV could help Arabtec raise financing from local Egyptian banks for the US$40 billion project.

They also said Arabtec might also go down other avenues to raise funds – including an offering on the Egyptian stock market.

“Arabtec could look into a local listing or listing one of its units in the UAE,” said Allen Sandeep, the head of equity research at Egypt-based Naeem Holding.

“Arabtec is in talks with the Egyptian government, including the ministry of defence and military production, to set up and develop one million residential units,” Arabtec said in yesterday.

The announcement to the Dubai bourse came a day after Egypt’s influential defence minister, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah El Sisi, said he was resigning from his military post to run for president. The authorities have not yet set a date for the election.

Arabtec’s deal, believed to be the largest housing project in the Arab world, is viewed as a cornerstone of the government’s bid to provide affordable housing to Egyptians. As many as 16 million are estimated to have inadequate housing.”

Foreign Relations

Ethiopia insists on renewing talks with Egypt on Nile dam project

Ahram: Ethiopia insistent on dam talks with Egypt: MENA

In this article: “Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom said on Thursday that his country is adamant about holding talks with Egypt about Ethiopia’s controversial Grand Renaissance Dam. In a meeting with a European Parliament delegation, Adhanom said that Ethiopia must find a solution on water allocation based on mutual benefit, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported.

Egypt insists that the hydroelectric dam, currently under construction on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, may have negative consequences for Egypt’s share of the Nile waters. Ethiopia however has repeatedly claimed the dam will not harm Egypt.

Recent talks between both countries fell through.”