Weekly Roundup – Mar 7, 2014

03/07/2014 . 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 Masr]

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 News]

“The law regulating the presidential election is expected to be issued next week after a lengthy process of amendment.” The following step involves the “meeting of the Presidential Election Commission (PEC) – the five-member judicial body tasked with supervising presidential polls – to prepare for the process which will see Egypt elect its second president in three years.” [Ahram Online]

Gender & Sexuality

The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights criticizes the government’s poor representation of women, stating: “despite two Revolutions, for which women fought in great numbers, the proportion of women in Cabinet is only 12%. This percentage is in stark contrast to population percentages or to the contribution made by women to the country’s economic activity which stands at 30% in the formal sector and nearly 70% in the informal sector. This percentage also shows how successive governments turn a blind eye to the expertise on offer by women, consistently ignoring all economic development reports which stress that having women participate in decision-making challenges corruption and contributes to the optimal investment of resources.” [ECWR]

62 international peace activists on their way to the Gaza Strip for an International Women’s Day event were denied entry by Egyptian airport authorities. It’s been reported that some activists “have been deported, while others are still at Cairo Airport, staging a protest against the Egyptian authorities.”  Security sources commented that the activists were listed as “unwanted individuals” at Cairo Airport, and that they have to enter Gaza through Israeli borders if they wish.”  [Middle East Monitor]

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]

A bomb hit Egypt’s reserve gas pipeline near Port Said on Wednesday morning. The improvised explosive device caused no casualties. Explosives experts have begun investigations at the site. Initial reports show the bombers placed the device near the reserve gas pipeline and not the active one, avoiding a massive explosion in the area. [Ahram]

Marginalized Groups

Mohamed Fayez Gebril, Libya’s Ambassador to Cairo “denounced [on] Thursday the targeted attacks on the country’s Coptic Christians.” In an interview with CBC Extra, the ambassador characterized the targeting of Copts in the Middle East as “terrorists attacks” and a “new phenomenon to destabilize the Arab World.” Gebril also affirmed that those responsible in the targeting  of Copts “would be arrested in days.”  [Cairo Post]

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

Hafez Abu Saeda, member of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) stated that “40 out of 119 prisoners interviewed by NCHR members at Abu Zaabal prison said they were tortured and beaten in police stations after being arrested.” Abu Saed added “Ï cannot deny there is torture in prisons; there are complaints now before prosecutors and they are looking at the matter.” [Ahram Online]

A group of mainly al-Jazeera journalists return to court in Egypt on Wednesday for the second day of their trial on charges of spreading disinformation and abetting terrorists, a day after an Egyptian minister admitted that their incarceration was a mistake. Australian ex-BBC correspondent Peter Greste and ex-CNN producer Mohamed Fahmy are among 20 journalists accused of helping Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood and smearing Egypt’s reputation overseas, in a case that has sparked international outcry. [Guardian, BBC, Daily News Egypt, SCMP, Al Jazeera]

Egypt’s government-appointed human rights organisation has announced its findings of a six-month investigation into last August’s bloody dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in, concluding that while supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi fired first, security forces on the scene responded with excessive force, “firing out of proportion” and leaving over 600 dead. [Ahram, Al Jazeera]

Economy

Speaking on Egypt’s economic situation, Field Marshall al-Sisi stated on thursday that “our economic situation is very difficult,” going on to add that “the country will not develop by talk but by hard work and insistence.”[Al Arabiya, The Daily Star]

Nine Egyptian public holding companies and their subsidiaries will soon be under an independent sovereign fund. The fund to restructure the public companies will be managed directly by the prime minister’s cabinet.

Foreign Relations

A deal between the French Naval Defense Company (DCNS) and Egypt’s Navy will provide Egypt with four Gowind-class corvettes from France for $1.38billion (€1 billion). DCNS won the bid which will provide Egypt the warships over Meko A200 German shipyards from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS). Additionally, it is reported that Egypt purchased “nine transport aircraft Airbus Group.” [Al Arabiya, Ahram Online]

Jordan, Egypt and Iraq sealed on Thursday two cooperation agreements in the fields of oil and natural gas. The first agreement provides for transferring natural gas through the Arab Gas Pipeline, while the second requires connecting the import of liquefied natural gas project to the gas tube with a link up with the Jordanian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the National Electricity Company on the one hand and the Jordanian Egyptian FAJR company for Natural Gas Transmission and Supply on the other. [Jordan News Agency]