Egypt Media Roundup – Mar 4, 2014

03/04/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

Egypt’s armed forces chief, Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, has said he cannot ignore calls by the majority for him to run for president. He was quoted by the state news agency Mena as revealing that “official procedures” regarding his candidacy were expected in the coming days. [TIME, BBC, Reuters, Egyptian Streets, Ahram, Mada MasrRead More..

Gender & Sexuality

A Facebook group called Egypt’s Queens: Imprisoned has been keeping an online list of women detained by Egyptian security forces since the July 2013 military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. The group says more than 2,500 peaceful protestors, men and women, have been killed and at least 15,000 political opponents have been detained, persecuted and tortured since last summer. [Huffington Post, Egypt’s Queens] Read More..

Security Sector

An Egyptian court on Tuesday banned all activities of Hamas in Egypt in a further sign that Cairo’s military-backed government aims to squeeze the Palestinian Islamist group that rules neighboring Gaza, regarding it as a security threat. [Reuters, BBC, Haaretz, JTA, Mada Masr, Ahram, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya] 

Rights & Freedoms

Two Egyptian journalists arrested on January 25, Feras Shamsan and Karim Al-Behairy, were released from police custody. Ahmed Fouad, also arrested on January 25, is still in detention. Additionally, out of a group of 79 revolutionary activists arrested on January 25, 23 were released while 68 are still pending trial. [Daily News Egypt, Ahram, Daily News EgyptRead More..

Economy

Russell Investments demoted Egypt from its emerging markets index on Tuesday and put it with a host of other African nations in the frontier camp. The reclassification of Egypt by Russell Indexes stems from a three-year market risk review process, in which Egypt did not meet macro- and operational risk criteria for emerging market status. [Forbes, ETF Trends] Read More.. 

Foreign Relations

According to Egypt’s State Information Services, Egypt and Sudan have reiterated their full keenness to boost bilateral relations in all fields to a level which lives up to the expectations of the two peoples. This came in a joint statement following talks between Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and his Sudanese counterpart Ali Karti in Cairo. [SIS, Sudan Tribune] 

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Legal & Political Institutions

Reporters without Borders issues statement calling on Egypt government to comply with freedoms afforded to citizens in new constitution

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Egypt – Authorities urged to respect new constitution

Summary: On the eve of the second hearing tomorrow in the Cairo trial of 20 Al-Jazeera journalists, Reporters Without Borders urges the new transitional government led by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab to comply with the principles enshrined in the new constitution and with Egypt’s international obligations. RWB deplores the government’s continuing violations of the fundamental freedoms that are guaranteed and protected in the new constitution, although more than a month has passed since its adoption.

Morsi murder trial postponed to march 6 due to Morsi’s defense team’s calls for judge replacement

Ahram: Cairo court to decide fate of judge in Morsi murder trial 6 March

Le Monde: [FR] Morsi trial adjourned again

Daily News Egypt: Morsi ‘presidential palace’ trial adjourned to Thursday

Summary: The trial of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and 14 other leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood on incitement charges has been adjourned to 6 March to give the court time to accommodate demands from the Brotherhood’s defense team.

Mohamed El-Damaty, the defending lawyer for leading Brotherhood member Essam El-Erian, has demanded that one of the trial’s sitting judges, Ahmed Abou El-Fotouh, be replaced.

New Election Law has been revised by State Council and submitted to President

Ahram: Egypt’s elections law revised by State Council and sent to president

Summary: A new law governing Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections has been revised and was sent on Monday to interim President Adly Mansour for a final review.

The State Council, a judicial advisory body, had been given the 59-article law and asked to review a variety of proposed amendments after Mansour put the document up for public debate and began fielding suggestions. A particularly contentious aspect of the law concerned an article allowing politicians and citizens to file appeals against the election’s official results as announced by the High Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC).

Supporters of the article said it was more democratic, while those against it insisted that appeals would bog down the electoral process and cause considerable delays, among other reasons.

El-Agaty said that the council’s legislation department has decided to allow the appeals, which will be filed through the Supreme Administrative Court.

The legislation department also kept an article detailing the parameters a presidential candidate must fulfill, namely in terms of citizenship and education.

FM Fahmy addresses Egyptian deaths in Libya, and Nile Water Dispute in press conference

Daily News Egypt: Time has come for Egypt to ‘build a better future’: Fahmy

Summary: Egypt is now entering the phase of “building a better future” having been focused on correcting the image of Egypt and “protecting the two revolutions” since July, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy in a press conference Tuesday morning.The minister covered a range of foreign affairs issues, looking back at the work done by the ministry since he became minister in July, and provided some clues to how he intends to move forward. He also discussed immediately pressing issues, such as the trend of violence against Egyptians in Libya and the Nile water dispute.

Marginalized Groups

Egypt’s ‘watchdog’ attitude toward mosques an attempt to curb political Islam, Islamist dissent

Gulf News: Egypt tightens grip on mosques to curb Islamist dissent

Summary: Egypt’s military-installed authorities are tightening their grip on mosques by laying down the theme for the weekly Friday sermons, in the latest move to curb Islamist dissent.

The controversial measure comes as Egypt remains deeply polarized after a government crackdown on supporters of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi, who was deposed by the army last July.

The authorities accuse Islamist groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood to which Mursi belongs, of using mosques to spread their ideology and enroll new recruits across Egypt.“The ministry’s decision is aimed at controlling the Islamist current supporting the Brotherhood at a time when many imams feel sympathetic towards the Brotherhood and Mursi,” said Amr Ezzat, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

“Mosques are the scene of an ongoing battle between authorities who are trying to prove that their policies are in line with Islam, and the current of political Islam which is trying to strip the state of its religious legitimacy.”

But not all imams are toeing the government line, and Ezzat said the ministry had “no tools allowing it to impose its control over all mosques”.

Rights & Freedoms

American activist detained in Cairo airport–deported to Turkey

Ahram: Code Pink co-founder tweets in detention at Cairo airport

Daily News Egypt: Egypt deports US anti-war activist travelling to Gaza

Mada Masr: US peace activist detained at airport

CBS: U.S. activist, CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin held overnight in Egypt jail, claims abuse

Bloomberg: U.S. Code Pink Co-Founder Held at Egypt Airport Deported

Summary: Co-founder of the pro-Palestinian Code Pink organisation Medea Benjamin was detained at Cairo airport upon her arrival early Tuesday en route to Gaza.

“I am being held in a jail at Cairo airport” the American human rights activist tweeted on her official Twitter account “@medeabenjamin” earlier today. Benjamin has been deported to Turkey, Code Pink said in a Twitter posting. The activist was on her way to Gaza as part of an International Women’s Day delegation. “The police pulled my arm out the socket, my arm is dislocated,” Benjamin said by phone from Cairo airport jail earlier today.

Protests in Zagazig halt trains to Lower Egypt

CairoPost: Trains to Lower Egypt suspended due to protests

Summary: The trains to Lower Egypt were suspended Tuesday after many locals in Zagazig congregated on the railway and disrupted train movement. The locals were protesting the killing of a young man while he was escaping from security ambush on a motorcycle, leading to the disruption of train 185 coming from Sohag. Sharqia Security Director Sameh al-Kelany was informed that many locals congregated after the killing of the young man by the army and police forces. The police departments in Sharqia have been coordinating with the Armed Forces to hold several security ambushes after the killing of one officer and eight soldier from National Security.

Economy

New Coca-Cola investment in Egypt will keep and create thousands of jobs

Daily News Egypt: Coca-Cola international plans to invest $500m in Egypt

Summary: Coca-Cola international plans to pump $500m in investment in Egypt, President of Coca-Cola International Ahmet C. Bozer revealed, adding that this intention reflects the company’s confidence in the country’s investment climate.

This announcement came during a Monday meeting between Bozer and Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb, attended by Minister of Investment, Industry and Foreign Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour and a delegation from Coca-Cola Company.

Bozer pointed out that Egypt’s Coca-Cola exports products to more than 40 countries around the world.

Around 12,000 workers are working in Coca-Cola’s factory in Egypt, Bozer stated, adding that the factory also created an additional 120,000 indirect job opportunities.

Egypt’s foreign reserves on the rise: at +$17billion

Reuters: Egypt foreign reserves up to $17.307 bln at end Feb. -c.bank

Summary: Egypt’s foreign reserves rose to $17.307 billion in February from $17.105 billion in January, the central bank said on Tuesday.

Reserves have been sharply falling since a 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak but were lifted in July when Gulf Arab states sent billions of dollars after the army took over power from elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

South Sinai governor claims tourism not much affected by Taba bus bombing, political instability

Egypt Independent: South Sinai governor: Tourist bookings not affected much by events

Summary: Major General Khaled Fouda, governor of South Sinai, said that the proportion of tourist booking cancellations did not exceed 15 percent, confirming the return of Arab tourism strongly to Sharm el-Sheikh.

He explained in a statement to CBC Extra Channel that Arab tourism in South Sinai has improved significantly and that tourist bookings have not been affected much during the terrorist attacks in the past couple months.

The Ministry of Tourism has formed an operations room in coordination with the Foreign Ministry and the ambassadors of Egypt abroad after seven countries warned their nationals from traveling to South Sinai since the bombing of a tourist bus in front of Taba Crossing.

Egypt’s wheat supplies low–new minister looking into subsidies, rations

Reuters: Egypt’s wheat supplies enough to last until June- new minister

Summary:  Khaled Hanafi, who was appointed last week, also said at a press conference in Cairo on Monday that Egypt aimed to cut its spending on wheat imports after finding solutions for its subsidised bread programme.

Egypt, which buys around 10 million tonnes of wheat a year from abroad, has struggled to cut spending on the programme, which provides loaves of bread to Egyptian at a cost of one U.S. cent each.

“We will work on lowering the wheat import bill after finding solutions to ration the bread subsidies,” Hanafi said. “I am currently working on a new system to subsidise the citizen who buys the bread.”

IFC targets investments in energy and infrastructure in Egypt

Gulf News: IFC explores energy, infrastructure projects in Egypt

Summary: Minister Abdul Nour also said the government is “considering supporting projects that aim at providing energy for industrial projects”.

IFC, which is targeting funding projects in the infrastructure sector, provided $276 million (Dh1.01 billion) in 2013 to fund five initiatives in Egypt. It is backing 14 projects across the country in manufacturing, construction, and the energy sector.

Since 2011, the corporation has invested almost $1 billion in Egypt and mobilised $303 million from other investors to support development in the private sector.