Thursday’s papers: Libyan protesters rally as death toll rises, police set ministry aflame, hunt for corruption continues

Pictures of former ministers Zoheir Garana and Ahmed El Magharagi and steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz inside their prison cell made it into most of today’s papers, capturing a fall from power that many fantasized about but never thought possible.

Al Ahram stayed true to its newly-found opposition voice by leading today's issue with the general prosecutor’s decision to forbid former officials Ahmed Nazif, Atef Ebeid, Anas El Fekky and Farouk Hosny from traveling and to freeze the assets of other former officials and businessmen. The paper also announces a request sent to France to freeze the Mubarak family assets. Al Youm al-Saba' newspaper publishes former culture minister's reaction to the decision, which shows his surprise and dismay. The former minister reportedly feels that he is being treated unfairly.

Between the rising number of casualties in Libya, the protesters’ victories and tales of the president’s eccentricities inspired by the incoherent speech he gave on Tuesday, the situation across the border got a lot of attention from local press.

Al Shorouk announced that the protesters in Libya took control of the eastern part of the country and were joined by the minister of interior, army leaders and Libyan diplomats around the world, who resigned in objection to President Muammar al-Qadhafi’s violent attacks on protesters. Al Shorouk quotes a Libyan protester saying that Qadhafi will commit “an unprecedented massacre” in Libya.

Al Shorouk also publishes news about WikiLeaks documents revealing that the Qadhafi family is hiding billions of dollars from the country’s oil revenues.

Al Ahram puts the death toll in Libya at 1000 and announces the return of 18,000 Egyptians from Libya. It also reports the international community's condemnation of Qadhafi's acts.

Regarding Egypt's own revolution, the papers report that an investigative committee concluded that protesters were shot with live ammunition and that the general prosecutor is preparing to send the responsible parties to a speedy trial.

Al Ahram details the contents of the first cabinet meeting after the latest reshuffling, but most independent newspapers gave little attention to the meeting. The paper reports the minister of interior’s announcement that only 256 political prisoners are still being detained and that they don’t include any of the 25 January youth protesters. This statement contradicts the reports of human rights organizations, which estimate a much higher number, and with testimonies of activists who insist that their colleagues who were arrested during the revolution remain incarcerated.

Regarding the fire that broke out Wednesday in a building adjacent to the Ministry of Interior, Al Ahram quotes a security source saying that the dismissed policemen who started the fire have criminal records and don’t have the right to return to work. Al Shorouk, however, highlights a different angle of the story, reporting that classified documents were leaked from the building during the fire. Al Shorouk says reports indicate the leaked documents were mentioned by Former Minister of Interior Habib al-Adly, who said that they will incriminate former officials.

Al Shorouk newspaper translates Mohamed ElBaradei’s Financial Times article announcing his vision for the next phase in Egypt. ElBaradei expresses his concern over the army’s “exclusive and ambiguous” leadership of this phase. He says that the constitutional amendments are only a temporary solution that doesn’t annul the need for a new constitution. He suggests the formation of a presidential council that includes two civilians and one military official, all unrelated to the old regime. ElBaradei also demands the formation of a government of experts to replace the current government, which bears traces of the old regime, and suggests the extension of the transitional phase from six months to one year.

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 al-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: 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 al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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