Egypt Independent

Sunday’s papers: Electoral boycotts and Easter conflicts

The most common topic in this morning’s newspapers is that Egypt's parliamentary elections, previously schedule to begin on 27 April, have been moved forward to start on 22 April.

The decision came after Coptic Christians criticized the timing of the parliamentary elections, which would take place during the Easter holiday. The changes to the schedule will affect all four stages of the elections.

The state-owned Al-Akhbar newspaper leads with “Postpone the election of the House of Representatives in response to the demands of the Copts,” in a clear nod to the presidency’s tolerance, while the FJP mouthpiece Freedom and Justice says more bluntly, “Fahmy [Shura Council speaker]: The president consents to the church, [makes] adjustments to the parliamentary elections schedule.” Conversely, privately-owned Youm7 says that the “Church’s anger forced the presidency to adjust the parliamentary elections schedule.”

The privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper focuses on the upcoming election, and how it says it will deepen the country’s political, as well as opposition calls for a boycott. The paper reports that opposition figure and Dostour Party leader Mohamed ElBaradei and Popular Current and National Salvation Front leader Hamdeen Sabbahi have both called for election boycotts, and Amr Hamzawy has also said that a boycott may be the opposition’s best option. The Freedom and Justice Party has condemned calls for a boycott, while the Nour Party has criticized the scheduling of elections without first reaching an agreement between different political parties. Both the Nour and the Wafd Parties will meet today to decide their plans regarding the elections.

State-owned Al-Akhbar’s front page leads with “Quiet in Shubra and Tahrir, disobedience continues in Port Said.” The newspaper points to strikes which have closed down seaports, customs outlets and roads leading to the governorate, while the Armed Forces have deployed military police to Port Said’s streets to manage traffic in the absence of Interior Ministry police as the city enters the eighth day of a civil disobedience campaign.

The paper also reports that hundreds of members of the Al-Masry football club’s Green Eagles ultras blocked the Port Said-Ismailia and Port Said-Cairo roads Saturday as well as the Raswa customs port.

Privately owned Al-Tahrir newspaper reports that the people of Port Said are shunning the upcoming parliamentary elections and have warned Salafi candidates against participating, announcing that the elections “are not happening in their city.”

Freedom and Justice’s front page quotes Prime Minister Hesham Qandil as saying that “A judge had been assigned to investigate last month's clashes in Port Said,” which left around 50 dead after a verdict was announced in the Port Said football massacre case.

Qandil also said that the declaration of a state of emergency in the city on 27 January and later partially rescinded was due to the “exceptional circumstances.”

State-owned Al Ahram and Al-Akhbar both report that Shubra is quiet after calls for civil disobedience have mostly fallen on deaf ears, while protesters have once again closed all of the entrances to Tahrir Square, despite the Interior Ministry’s promise to set a plan for tearing down the concrete walls downtown. The papers reported that popular committee members placed metal barriers across all entrances.

Both papers also reported that bakeries are threatening to strike Thursday if the government does not yield to their demands and pay them overdue compensation for production incentives and differences in diesel prices.

Meanwhile, Al-Shorouk also highlighted on its front page statements from Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez during an interview saying, “I expect the end of the decline in strategic foreign reserves by next month.”

Egypt’s papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Watan: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Youm7: Daily, privately owned

Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned

Al-Sabah: Daily, privately owned

Freedom and Justice: Daily, published by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party

Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party