- Middle East/North Africa
Daily papers Sunday run news relating to the preparations for the upcoming parliamentary elections, the issuing of historic court verdicts pertaining to the ousted Hosni Mubarak regime and the Shura Council, along with plans for the second anniversary of the 25 January revolution.
Topping the news is the Court of Cassation’s verdict today regarding the appeal filed by Mubarak and former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly against the life sentence issued in June by the Cairo Felonies Court.
According to the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, the Court of Cassation is due to rule today on whether Mubarak and Adly may appeal their 25-year prison sentences in light of the killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising.
This court is also to issue its verdict as to whether it will accept another appeal to the verdicts issued against Mubarak — and his sons Alaa and Gamal, along with escaped business tycoon Hussein Salem and six senior police chiefs who had served under Adly — in regard to the exports of gas to Israel, abuse of authority for personal gains, and the killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising.
Al-Ahram mentions that South Cairo Criminal Court is still looking into the corruption case filed against Alaa and Gamal Mubarak regarding the sale of Watany Bank and profiteering from this sale, until February 9.
In other court-related news, the independent Al-Tahrir newspaper runs a headline reading, “Revolutionary forces call for mobilization to protect the Supreme Constitutional Court during its verdict session regarding the Shura Council,” the upper, consultative house of Parliament, which has recently been granted legislative powers by the new Constitution.
A subhead in Al-Tahrir explains, “Constitutional court to determine fate of Shura Council Tuesday,” when it is set to rule on the constitutionality of the election of this parliamentary body. According to “a legal expert” quoted in the paper, there is a large possibility that the court will rule against the Shura Council, as it did with the People’s Assembly (the lower, legislative house of Parliament) in June, especially given that they were both elected according to the same flawed regulations.
The independent Al-Watan newspaper runs a headline reading, “Revolutionaries plan to protect constitutional court.” The paper adds that revolutionary (opposition) forces will embark on “marches to the court tomorrow” and will also form “human cordons around the court.” The article explains that revolutionary forces will participate in these actions after Islamists and loyalists of the now-ruling regime had camped outside this court late last year, and allegedly kept judges from entering the court.
If the Shura Council is not dissolved by the Supreme Constitutional Court Tuesday, then it will begin finalizing the parliamentary elections law this week. The independent Youm7 newspaper reports on the top echelons of army generals and their “refusal to allow those fleeing from military service (conscription) to nominate themselves to Parliament” for at least 10 years from the date of pardon for this crime. Youm7 mentions that top generals insisted that this regulation be added to the parliamentary elections law being prepared by the Shura Council.
“Today, the Shura Council discusses the parliamentary elections law,” reads a front-page headline in the Muslim Brotherhood’s mouthpiece newspaper, Freedom and Justice, named after its political party.
Meanwhile, a group of Coptic Christian politicians have recently been calling for a 10 percent quota in the next Parliament to be set aside for Copts. Al-Watan reports that these calls have been made to boost this minority’s political representation and to keep Copts from being marginalized. Calls for this sort of so-called positive discrimination have been made to allocate a seat or two from each electoral circuit for Christian candidates, as this religious group is said to constitute around 10 percent of the population, but is not accordingly represented in Parliament, the politicians say.
In other related news, the liberal opposition Al-Wafd newspaper writes that “11 conditions to guarantee free and fair parliamentary elections” were stipulated by the opposition coalition known as the National Salvation Front.
These conditions include: complete judicial supervision, with a judge for each ballot box; voting over the course of two consecutive days; allowing each candidate’s representatives to inspect vote counting and tallying in polling stations; and allowing civil society groups, NGOS, lawyers and media to enter and report on the voting process.
Further conditions include: stamping ballots with official stamps; criminalizing the use of houses of worship for electoral campaigning; granting women slots (one per every three male candidates) on parties’ electoral rosters; and streamlining the process of complaints and grievances regarding electoral violations through the electoral commission, among other demands.
Al-Tahrir newspaper mentions that, other than these 11 demands, the National Salvation Front is “calling for the establishment of a new government” — a neutral and representative government — “upon the issuing of the new parliamentary elections law.”
The independent Al-Shorouk newspaper mentions these same 11 demands, and adds that the front is calling for “protests in all of Egypt’s city squares on 25 January” to commemorate the second anniversary of the revolution.
Al-Watan runs a headline reading that President Mohamed “Morsy’s regime prepares for January storms.” According to this paper, Morsy has called on the Interior Ministry to beef up security — especially around the presidential palace, Tahrir Square, the Cabinet, Parliament and embassies — and to be on high alert on 25 and 26 January, in case of scuffles or instigated violence.
Al-Watan mentions that the Muslim Brotherhood and other pro-Morsy Islamists will commemorate the 25 January revolution outside the Raba’a al-Adawiya Mosque in Nasr City to avoid confrontations with anti-Morsy protesters camped in Tahrir Square and the Ettehadiya Presidential Palace in Heliopolis. The article also mentions that the Brotherhood chose this protest spot “as it is close to the presidential palace,” whereby they can march on the palace to protect it from destructive protesters, if need be.
Al-Watan also reports that Morsy will deliver his presidential address on 25 January from the nearby Nasr City Conference Hall.
This paper also mentions that the hardcore football fans known as the ultras for Ahly football team will organize protest marches Friday to Tahrir Square under the title “Friday of the Massacre,” to commemorate the deaths of at at least 72 football fans at Port Said Stadium in February.
A court verdict regarding this deadly football violence is scheduled for 26 January. Al-Watan reports that there is a likelihood of violence and scuffles between the Ultras Ahlawy and the Port Said Masry Club ultras, the two groups involved in the February violence, regardless of whether a verdict of acquittal or indictment is issued for those accused of being responsible for the deaths.