A slow day of political news, but the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi have been very busy, according to the state papers. Speaking at a “Third army” military show, Tantawi said that the only reason the armed forces isn’t “striking with an iron fist” at its detractors, is so that they can “ferry Egypt to safe shores,” according to Al-Ahram.
Tantawi took the opportunity to talk again about how much the military is suffering and enduring for the sake of Egypt, according to state-run Al-Akhbar. The military exposition — which was only reported on by state papers — was supposed to show Egypt’s strength. According to Al-Ahram, Tantawi said, “We will not let any country cross the line with us.” But foreigners need not worry: “We will not antagonize anyone who stays in line.” Besides these bold declarations, according to Al-Ahram, Tantawi claimed that soon “truths will appear to reveal the great role the armed forces has played.”
The military council has promised to reveal many truths over the past year, not least the truth about the “third party” ruining Egypt and causing all the protests and disturbance. So far they have never followed up on their promises to reveal.
Non-state papers did not report on the military show or Tantawi’s subsequent statements, but according to independent Al-Shorouk, the SCAF postponed a meeting with political groups regarding the Constituent Assembly from Sunday to Thursday. A SCAF source told Al-Shorouk that they do not believe political groups will be able to reach a middle-ground solution with regards the Constituent Assembly.
Party paper Al-Wafd sheds light on what they think is a looming crisis in subsidized bread. The paper claims that 24,000 bakeries that sell subsidized bread are threatening to shut down due to increased energy prices.
The Presidential Elections Commission is set to designate symbols for presidential candidates so that they may begin officially campaigning tomorrow. According to the Muslim Brotherhood-related Freedom and Justice Party’s paper, their candidate Mohamed Morsy will be assigned the scales. Speaking at a campaign rally yesterday, Morsy said his nomination is a chance to put into practice the Brotherhood’s slogan, “Islam is the solution.” According to Al-Akhbar, Morsy claimed that he is the only true Islamist candidate in the race, ignoring both Islamic thinker Mohamed Selim al-Awa and former Brotherhood leader Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh.
According to Al-Akhbar, the election commission’s regulatory committee will also meet today to begin to oversee campaign spending.
Al-Shorouk ran a special on campaigning during the “silence period” that was supposed to last until tomorrow. In it they claim that the average cost of campaigning will reach LE17 million. While all of the campaigns broke the rules and were active during the silence period, some, such as Hazem Salah Abu Ismail’s campaign, have already spent the LE10 million ceiling allowed for an entire campaign.
Speaking of Abu Ismail — excluded from the race due to the American citizenship of his late mother — his supporters are threatening to shut down Tahrir Square if their demands are not met, according to Al-Wafd. Medhat Emad, a Salafi leader, says Abu Ismail will release “explosive” evidence regarding his late mother’s citizenship on Monday, Al-Wafd says.
Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq looks set to run for president, since the Supreme Constitutional Court says it is not qualified to ratify a law that bans Mubarak-era officials from running. Article 28 of the Constitutional Declaration disallows any institution other than the Presidential Elections Commission from ruling on such matters, according to Al-Ahram. Many former ministers attended Shafiq’s wife’s funeral on Saturday, Al-Akhbar says.
Sunday will be the beginning of what is set to be an eventful week in Parliament. Many MPs called for the dismissal of Ali Gomaa, the Al-Azhar grand mufti, from his job after he visited Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Al-Wafd says. Today Parliament will discuss these calls. Parliament’s legislative committee will be looking at the criteria for choosing the members of the Constituent Assembly, according to Freedom and Justice. Parliament will also be discussing a maximum wage, spending on secondary school education, and private funds spending, the paper says. The Brotherhood paper also discusses the possibility of Parliament being found unconstitutional and then dissolved, calling this scenario the SCAF’s “political suicide.”
The Supply and Domestic Trade Ministry is supposed to begin solving the propane tank crisis by handing out coupons for tank refills, to curb black market activity on subsidized items, Al-Shorouk says.
Also, according to Al-Shorouk, the Health Ministry has decided to inaugurate its first stem cell treatment center. It will begin by treating diabetes and liver diseases. The center will start with 900 donors. Although Egypt decided to begin looking into stem cell treatments last year, the government will consider regulating stem cell research and treatment with Al-Azhar.
Besides the major news items of the day, it is important to point out purposefully libelous and misleading headlines. The state’s flagship paper Al-Ahram runs a headline that says, “Hariry proposes a draft law that grants total amnesty for all political crimes that occurred during the past regime.” Anyone who reads this will think the story is about how the known leftist MP Abu al-Ezz al-Hariry is looking to grant amnesty for former President Hosni Mubarak and other corrupt politicians. In fact, the story is about a law he proposed to pardon and grant amnesty to any civilian who was sentenced in front of military courts—which he sees as illegitimate—since the beginning of Mubarak’s era.
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-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
Youm7: Daily, privately owned
Al-Tahrir: 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