Egypt Media Roundup – Mar 3, 2014

03/03/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

Egypt’s new PM Mahlab has expressed that security is his top priority and is calling for an end to protests to give the country a ‘breather’ after three years of instability. [Al Jazeera, Global Post, Deseret News, News24, Chicago Sun Times, Fox NewsRead More..

Security Sector

A low ranking police officer was shot by unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle in Beni Suef. Another police officer was shot in his car in Al-Shaff, and a third police officer was killed in Giza in an ongoing onslaught of attacks on security officials. [Mada Masr, Al Bawaba, PressTV] 

Marginalized Groups

Student unions across Egypt have denounced the decision to return security forces to college campuses while campus police are claiming that they will only intervene in cases of extreme need. [Mada Masr, Ahram

Rights & Freedoms

The Alexandria Criminal court sentenced the two police officers involved in the killing of blogger Khaled Said in 2010. The officers were originally sentenced to 7 years in 2012, but in the retrial were sentenced to 10 years. [Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Daily Telegraph, Turkish Press, Al Jazeera, AFP, BBC

Economy

Authorities mount international campaign to reassure tourists that Red Sea and Sinai beach resorts are safe, following the 16 February bombing of a tourist bus in South Sinai that killed four. [Ahram, World BulletinRead More.. 

Foreign Relations

Egypt’s air, naval and special forces have begun joint training exercises with the United Arab Emirates, further displaying the strengthening of relations between the two countries [Daily News EgyptRead More..

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Legal & Political Institutions

Egypt may have a new government, but it still hasn’t solved its old problems

Economist; Musical chairs  A change of government provokes speculation about Egypt’s future

Summary: The abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi’s government on February 24th, after just seven months in office, perplexed not only ordinary citizens. Seasoned analysts scratched their heads. Several outgoing ministers also expressed bafflement about their sudden departure, which comes just months before expected elections for a new president and parliament that will necessitate the naming of yet another new cabinet.

Many assumed it was part of an elaborate manoeuvre to pave the way for the widely anticipated announcement by Field-Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s minister of defence and the leader of last July’s coup that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood, that he will run for president. Technically, the popular general must resign his military post in order to qualify as a candidate. Others saw the shift as an attempt to clean the government’s slate. Grievances have accumulated, including frustration at power cuts, an unprecedented wave of strikes by government workers, and anger over the ferocity of a crackdown against dissent that has broadened from the Brothers to critics of every stripe

A shift in national consciousness is starting to prove the revolution changed Egypt’s social structure, claims Hala Shukrallah

Guardian: First woman to head a political party in Egypt claims it proves the revolution changed attitudes

Summary: Hala Shukrallah is the first woman – and first Christian – to lead a major Egyptian party. At a time when the 2011 uprising seems to have achieved little, her election is a reminder of the seismic social shifts the revolution unleashed. At least, that is how she sees it. “What we’re seeing here is that something truly on-the-ground is happening,” Shukrallah, 59, says of her election. “I think it’s a reflection of the changes in the people’s psyche since the 25 January [revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak]. They do not really see these elements as significant – being a woman, being a Copt, or whatever. These elements are no longer significant in comparison to a much bigger thing that they are aspiring to.”

Women and Coptic Christians (who form around 10% of the otherwise Muslim population) have historically been largely marginalised from politics. But Shukrallah’s election hints that this may slowly be starting to change, partly thanks to a shift in national consciousness created by the 2011 revolution, which encouraged people to challenge social structures.

Draft election law to allow appeals on election results

Ahram: Appeals could delay presidential election results

Ahram: Amended Egyptian election law to allow appeal on results

Summary: According to Article 7 of the draft election law, the right to file appeals will be confined to “those directly concerned with the election process, especially candidates.”

Appeals should be filed within two days of the original decision and Supreme Administrative Court will then issue a final verdict within one week.

Holding presidential and parliamentary polls simultaneously is permitted by the constitution, Fahmy added. This could be necessary to ensure both elections are held within six months of the constitution’s ratification, as required by Article 230.

The secretary-general of the Presidential Election Commission has questioned the wisdom of allowing appeals against its decisions.

“Appeals against the commission’s decisions could hinder its work,”  Hamdan Fahmy told Al-Arabiya satellite channel on Saturday.

“If one decision is appealed it could cause delays to later decisions,” he added.

Such appeals could be deemed unconstitutional, Fahmy noted, because the constitution states the commission has full control over the poll.

Political parties in Egypt call for resignation of MOI–questioning his ability to respond to Egypt’s security challenges

Ahram: Opposition groups: Egypt’s minister of interior must leave

Daily news egypt: Parties call for replacing interior minister

Aswat Masriya: Political parties demand sacking of interior minister

Summary: News of the continuation of Egyptian Minister of Interior, Mohamed Ibrahim in the upcoming cabinet has angered many political figures and police reform advocates who have long demanded Ibrahim’s dismissal.

Four prominent political parties, including the liberal Constitution Party and the Egyptian Social Democratic party, issued a statement on Friday voicing their opposition to the continuation of Ibrahim as interior minister.

The statement accused the current security apparatus of being unable to face the increasing frequency of militant attacks, leaving many questioning the ministry’s ability to respond to such a challenge.

“Not to mention that there are almost daily testimonies of political prisoners, revolutionary youth or even criminal detainees being subject to torture,” added the statement.“

Economy

Egypt acquires outside contractors in oil venture with BP

Upstream: One Subsea gains $80m Egypt deal

Summary: Houston’s One Subsea has gained an $80million contract to supply subsea production equipment for a BP-led East Nile Delta development off of Egypt.

Jamal Khashoggi writes: If Sisi is going to be president, he must rebuild the economy

Al Arabiya: Economic Reform is the only way forward in Egypt

Summary: Supporters of Egyptian Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi like to picture him as another Gamal Abdel Nasser. However, he certainly knows that if he wants to succeed as Egypt’s president, he should never be like Abdel Nasser, rather he should fix the Egyptian economy that was tarnished by the “eternal leader.” He certainly knows that Egypt’s problem is the economy and that all those who came after Abdel Nasser tried to rebuild the economy but did not succeed.

Egypt’s housing crisis can be alleviated with a push for low-income mortgages

Mada Masr: Egypt in dire need of push for low-income mortgages

Summary: Egyptian banks plan to introduce products that would facilitate the financing of low and middle-income housing in the form of long-term loans at low interest rates, according to the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA).

Hesham Ramez, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) governor, said Monday that these mortgages aim to alleviate the country’s housing problems by offering financing options to customers with limited income.

In late February, the CBE said it would allocate LE10 billion for low-cost housing projects, to be deposited to banks for 20 years at a low interest rate. Banks would then relend to citizens who qualify to buy houses at a yearly interest rate of 7-8 percent, Reuters reported.

Foreign Relations

Egypt’s foreign ministry claims US human rights report is US “appointing itself lawyer and advocate for human rights issues in the world without a legitimate base”

Turkish Press: Egypt lashes out at US human rights report

Ahram: Egypt criticises ‘US appointing itself human rights advocate

All Africa: Egypt-US report on human rights unbalanced

Summary: Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman denounced Saturday the US “appointing itself a lawyer and an advocate for human rights issues in the world without a legitimate base,” Al-Ahram Arabic website reported.

Badr Abdel-Ati, in a press conference, commented on the US’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013, saying the report is “unbalanced and non-objective.”

The report, issued in late February, said the most significant human rights problems were the “removal of an elected civilian government,” referring to the removal of Mohamed Morsi from office on 3 July following mass protests on 30 June.

The spokesman said that the report’s claim of the removal of Morsi is incorrect as “tens of millions of Egyptians took to the streets on 30 June to demand early presidential elections.”

Abdel-Ati said the US’s omission of the protests leading to Morsi’s ouster shows that the report is not accurate and doesn’t reflect reality.

Tensions escalate between Egypt and Ethiopia’s dam crisis–Italy offers to mediate

Ahram: Irrigation minister denounces Ethiopia’s ‘obstinacy’ on dam

Geeska Africa: Egypt: diplomatic offensive against Ethiopia

Aswat Masriya: Egypt: Italy voices willingness to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia

Summary: Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Mahmoud Abdel-Muttalib denounced on Monday what he described as Ethiopia’s obstinacy towards building its Grand Renaissance Dam, MENA reported.

Ethiopia’s project is a $4.2 billion hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile, one of the main tributaries of the Nile. It is a source of concern to Egypt, since it is still undetermined how it will affect Egypt’s Nile water share, the country’s main source of potable water.

Italy’s Ambassador to Egypt, Maurizio Massari, has said that his country is willing to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia to resolve the Renaissance Dam crisis.

Egypt’s Irrigation Minister, Mohamed Abdel Motteleb, visited Italy in February in an attempt to convince European countries to halt their support for the dam building process due to its negative impact on Egypt’s water security.

Italian companies working on building the Great Renaissance Dam are private ones, and the government has no authority over them, Massari told that state-owned Ahram newspaper on Saturday.