Egypt committed to free and fair presidential elections

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Al-Masry Al-Youm

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri stressed the Egyptian government’s full commitment to holding free and fair presidential elections that once again will prove Egypt’s commitment to its democratic process. The statement came during a meeting on Saturday between Shoukri and German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said that Shoukri’s remarks came in response to a question from the German minister about the preparations for the upcoming presidential elections in Egypt. Zeid said that Shoukri reviewed the general features of the electoral process for the German minister. Just two candidates will run in the elections, scheduled for March; sitting President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ghad party head Moussa Mustafa Moussa.

All other presedential hopefuls, including former army Chief of Staff Sami Anan, rights lawyer Khaled Ali, and former-Prime Minister and 2012 presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafiq, have either backtracked on their bids for the presidency or been blocked by authorities from running. Ali announced his withdrawal from the race at a press conference, citing restrictions by authorities on his campaign, and the arrest of Anan.

Anan was ousted from the race after accusations by the Armed Forces that he had committed legal violations including forgery. He was arrested and is now believed to be held in a military prison. Shafiq has reportedly been under house arrest at one of Cairo luxury hotels since his return from his self-imposed exile in the UAE until he backtracked on his bid for the presidency.


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Egypt to play Belgium in World Cup warm-up

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Al Ahram

Egypt will face Belgium in May as part of their preparation for the 2018 World Cup that will kick off next June in Russia. In statements to TV sports program “El-Modarrag”, Egyptian FA board member Mohamed Aboul-Waffa has confirmed that an arrangement has been reached but the date of the game has not been determined yet.

Aboul-Waffa also added that they are still in talks with several teams to arrange another friendly following the Belgium game. The Pharaohs, who reached the World Cup finals for the first time in 28 years, will hold two training camps ahead of the football’s most prestigious showpiece. The first one will be in March in Switzerland, where the seven-time African Champions will face Portugal and Greece.

In the final training camp before the World Cup, Hector Cuper’s men will first play Kuwait then Belgium. A third match is yet to be arranged. Egypt were placed in Group A of the World Cup along with hosts Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia in Group A.


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Egypt’s military says kills seven ‘takfiris’, arrests 408 suspects in north and central Sinai

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Al Ahram

Egypt’s army said on Saturday it killed seven “takfiris” in north and central Sinai and arrested 408 suspected or wanted criminal elements as Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018 continues into its ninth day. In the ninth communique since the counter-terrorism campaign was launched last Friday, the army said the air forces destroyed eight terrorist targets, killing three “takfiris” and destroying a 4×4 wheeler carrying a half-inch sub-machine gun.

The Arabic word “takfiri” refers to hard line Sunni Muslims who accuse other Muslims of being infidels, often as a justification for using violence against them.
The army said forces also raided a dangerous terrorist hotspot, killing four of the armed “takfiri” elements during a shootout, adding that the raid resulted in the confiscation of two machine guns and a improvised explosive device.

The statement said 408 suspected or wanted criminals were arrested and are being legally processed. Operation Sinai 2018 was launched last Friday, involving land, naval and air forces, as well as the police and border guards, targeting “terrorist and criminal elements and organizations” in northern and central Sinai, as well as parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert.

The statement said army engineers uncovered and diffused 45 IEDs which were planted to target security forces during operations. The army added that its forces destroyed 158 dens and storehouses containing a number of highly explosive materials, C4 and chemical elements used to manufacture IEDs, transmission devices, as well as seven vehicles and 32 unlicensed motorcycles used by the terrorist elements.

Seven tonnes of narcotics were also seized in the operations. The statement added that the naval forces continued to conduct missions to secure the coasts from Rafah till Al-Arish in order to stop the escape of terrorist elements through the sea. The joint combat units of the border guard and the police conducted 586 flying checkpoints on main roads and across desert areas nationwide, imposing full control along the southern and western borders.

According to the statement, Border Guard forces stopped an attempt to smuggle weapons and narcotics on the western borders, seizing 99 guns and 400,000 different narcotic pills. As part of the efforts to bring the legal status of citizens who live in north and central Sinai up to date, the army said the interior ministry was currently issuing and renewing national IDs, as well as driving licenses and licenses for vehicles and motorcycles.


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Head of state TV channel accused of threatening to rape journalist

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Head of the Journalists’ Syndicate Abdel Mohsen Salama filed two cases at the Attorney General’s office on Sunday against the president of a state-owned TV channel accusing him of threatening to rape journalist Hamdeya Abdel Halim of the al-Alam al-Youm newspaper and of libel against journalist Karem Mohamed at the Tahya Masr newspaper.

A leaked audio recording allegedly of the head of the Family channel Mokhtar Ahmed was broadcast on the Manchette talk-show on the privately owned satellite channel Al-Nahar on Thursday where Ahmed was heard saying he would rape the female journalist.

“There is a journalist who I would rape. I love raping. They used to catch me raping when I was young,” the voice said.

Salama said that the syndicate received a complaint from Abdel Halim saying that Ahmed threatened to rape her in the audio recording, describing the incident as an assault against a journalist because of her occupation.

The syndicate also received a complaint from Karem Mohamed who accused Ahmed of committing an act of libel at the channel’s headquarters in the state-TV building Maspero in downtown Cairo. Details regarding the content of the libel were not revealed.

The head of the syndicate demanded that the Attorney-General take legal action against the TV channel president.

Chairman of The National Media Organization Hussein Zein issued a decision to suspend Ahmed until investigations into the case have been completed.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm


Source :  Egypt Independent

Police raid ‘Misr al-Qawya’ party over suspicious funding

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The Supreme State Security Prosecution raided the headquarters of Misr al-Qawya party [Strong Egypt] on Sunday, in addition to properties owned by the head of the party Abdel Moneam Abu al-Fottoh and deputy head of the party Mohammed al-Qasas over charges of suspicious sources of funding.

Security forces raided the headquarters in Qasr al-Nile street on Sunday, preventing the party’s staff from entering the building.

Article 4 of the law stipulates that, “It is required for the establishment or continuation of any political party that the party’s principles, objectives, programs or policies shall not contradict, when exercising its activities, the basic principles of the constitution, requirement of the national security and preservation on the national unity, social peace and/or order”.

According to the Egyptian law covering political parties, the head of the political affairs committee is entitled to investigate a political party if it works in violation of its goals and principles. Political parties may be dissolved upon a decision from the higher administrative court in case of violations.

Egyptian security forces arrested former-Islamist presidential candidate and current head of Misr al-Qawya Party, Abu al-Fotouh, on February 14 for alleged ties with Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.


Source :  Egypt Independent

US hindering completion of Egypt-France Rafale deal: La Tribune

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The French weekly financial newspaper La Tribune reported on Friday that a deal between Cairo and France over the sale of 12 Rafale jet fighters to Egypt has been blocked because the US is refusing to export a component of a cruise missile that is part of the plane.

French sources quoted in the report asserted that the delay in the deal is due to the shortage of the American component of the scalp missiles and not a funding issue as in the past.

La Tribune noted that Dassault Aviation and MBDA declined to confirm reports about the Scalp cruise missile, a low observable air-launched cruise missile.

In response to the report, the Egyptian army’s official spokesperson Tamer El-Refa’ai told Egypt Independent on Sunday that the issue of the missing American component of the Scalp cruise missile is considered as French “internal affairs.”

The newspaper added that France has previously approved the export of the Scalp cruise missiles to Egypt, though the US’s refusal to provide the manufacturer with the American component obstructed this step.

This refusal triggered outrage among Egyptians who are insisting on receiving the Scalp cruise missiles before completing the Rafale deal.

It explained that the Egyptian outrage will push France to seek alternatives to the American components through resorting to another missiles’ manufacturer away from MBDA, or to open high-level communication with the US administration, saying that such communications may take place during the upcoming visit of the French President Emmanuel Macron to US in April.

The French newspaper highlighted that there is a conflict between the US and France regarding French weapons’ deals to Middle East countries including Egypt and United Arab of Emirates [UAE], asserting that the US previously refused to sell French components used to manufacture spy satellites to UAE.

In November 2017, La Tribune said that Egypt is going to sign a military deal with France which will see Egypt buy 12 Rafale fighter aircrafts.

At the time, the newspaper quoted anonymous sources as saying that the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian negotiated the deal with President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi while attending the World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh in November 2017.

In February 2015, France agreed to deliver 24 Rafale fighter jets to Egypt at a cost of € 5.2 billion.

The French Rafael manufacturer Dassault Aviation disclosed in March that it would deliver to Egypt eight Rafale fighters this year.

In December 2016, Egypt ranked first among developing nations that imports arms, according to a US congressional report.

Over the past few years, Egypt has finalized several arms deals with a number of countries including France and Russia.


Source : Egypt Independent

Chairman of ‘Family’ channel suspended over rape threats

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Al Ahram

Moukhtar Ahmed, chairman of the“Family and Child” channel, which is part of the state-run broadcaster Maspero, was suspended and referred to investigations on Friday after threatening a female journalist with rape. TV host Gaber Al-Qarmo broadcasted on his program Manshet (Headline) audio recordings in which Moukhtar Ahmed was mentioning that he will rape a female journalist and scorns another.

“There is a journalist out there that I will rape, I basically love rape and I have been used to getting caught raping people since I was young,” the chairman of the “Family” channel Ahmed said, according to the audio recordings obtained by Al-Qarmoty. According to reports, the reasons for the threats are due to a brawl between Ahmed and the employees working for the channel and they kept threatening him to brief such internal disputes to the press, which in turn made him angry.

Maspero has been a pioneer in television and radio broadcasting in the Middle East and Africa since 1950s.



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