Egypt Independent

Sunday’s papers: Electricity cut and corruption denied

Government corruption has received intensive coverage over the past two days after the ruling National Democratic Party’s pledge to “seriously address the issue” ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The front page of the state-run Al-Akhbar leads with a story about MPs illegally seeking medical treatment paid for by the government. The paper reports that an investigation conducted by the Public Money Prosecutors has revealed that no MPs were implicated in facilitating such deals. The issue was raised by independent MP Mostafa Bakry in an attempt to expose corruption within the government.

The privately-owned Al-Dostour also covers the case, but reveals an important detail: that the Public Money Prosecutors have given a different account to the general prosecutor which contradicts their findings in the initial investigation.

The opposition Al-Wafd runs a different version of the story altogether, with a headline that reads, “30 more government-sponsored medical treatment MPs.” The story reports that the investigations reveal more MPs to be implicated in the scandal. The new list, according to Al-Wafd, includes members of the ruling National Democratic Party and other MPs. The paper also reports that Minister of Health Hatem el-Gebaly will submit a report on the matter to the general prosecutor but won’t be interrogated directly. Yet the reversal of the Public Money Prosecutors’ findings, dubbed a “surprise” in other papers’ coverage, is nowhere featured in Al-Wafd’s story.

The privately-owned Al-Shorouk also leads with a corruption case, in which the CEO of a public railway company has used LE66 million of the company’s budget for personal expenditures, including membership in an elite club, gifts and loans to his office manager.

On a different front, both Al-Akhbar and Al-Ahram carry front page stories about repairs to the High Dam which have caused long power outages in Upper Egypt. Al-Ahram’s headline reads “The electricity of the High Dam is working properly and our production from electro-hydraulic stations is fixed.” The story includes an interview with the head of the electro-hydraulic stations public company who said that the High Dam’s stations are working properly. Yet the story ends by recounting the hardships that people have endured during the blackouts, which include surgeries conducted in the dark, halted agricultural activities and unbearable heat.

In its similarly positive headline, Al-Akhbar writes, “The return of electricity to Upper Egypt.” In the story, the power cuts are attributed to supplementary loads on electric consumption caused by heat waves.

Al-Akhbar runs a small side-bar story on a recent rapprochement between the Maghagha church leaders in Minya and NDP officials, following a feud over the church’s request to construct a new building. The story also reports that the church community decided to postpone a protest against the governorate’s negative stance towards their request for a new church. An even smaller story just adjacent to the Maghagha one reports that church leaders in Qena have congratulated their fellow Muslims for their new mosque in the same area, in a gesture of national unity.

All papers cover the 10-year prison sentence handed to the Maadi boat operator whose recently sunken ship resulted in the deaths of nine Christian girls on a church trip. Most of the coverage focuses on reactions by the victims’ families to the ruling, which many of them believe is weak. Lawyers were reported as saying that they will raise another case against the Minister of Interior for allowing unlicensed boats to operate freely. Meanwhile, all papers have avoided covering the issue from a sectarian perspective

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-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose el-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party’s Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouq: Daily, privately owned

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

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned