Egypt Independent

Tuesday’s papers: Loan controversy hits the World Bank

State-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reports on its front page Tuesday that fuel subsidies will be reduced by LE25 billion to LE70 billion in the new state budget, according to Petroleum Minister Momtaz al-Saeed and Planning and International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abouelnaga.

In addition, Egypt is expected to agree to a loan of US$1 billion from the World Bank. Al-Ahram runs reactions to the declaration by some MPs that accepting loans from the World Bank violates Sharia due to its edicts on interest. Tagammu Party founder Nabil Zaki describes the loan as an attempt to undermine the national economy, while Mohamed ElBaradei, founder of the recently established Constitution Party, questions “exactly which Sharia [the MPs] are referring to.”

In its coverage of the presidential election, the state daily publishes an extremely brief examination of the candidates’ positions on Israel. It uses quotes by labor activist and MP Kamal Abul Eita as evidence that Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi intends to ensure that Egypt governs itself “rather than be governed by the decisions of Zionists.”

Islamist presidential candidate Mohamed Selim al-Awa says he would respect existing treaties with Israel, Al-Ahram reports, while former Arab League head Amr Moussa says “he knows what Israel means more than anyone else," with the implication that the country must be handled with caution.

Independent daily Youm7 leads with allegations of presidential election forgery at Egyptian embassies. Egyptians abroad are casting their ballots in the election until 17 May.

The paper reports that the problem is particularly acute in the Gulf, where Egyptians have reported others using their identities to vote. The US and Europe, meanwhile, have seen low voter turnout, Youm7 reports.

Independent Al-Shorouk quotes the findings of the Ibn Khaldoun Center’s monitoring of voting abroad, according to which last Thursday’s debate between presidential candidates Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh and Amr Moussa “contributed to Egyptians abroad voting for Hamdeen Sabbahi.”

Presidential candidates’ programs are “weak and need more attention and effort,” a study conducted by the head of the Arab Alternatives Forum and published in Al-Shorouk concludes. Six of the top candidates were included in the study, which found Abouel Fotouh has the strongest program, followed by Sabbahi, leftist lawyer Khaled Ali, Moussa, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq.

Notably absent from the study was Mohamed Selim al-Awa. On its front cover, independent newspaper Al-Tahrir says that statements made by Awa to the paper on Monday “generated widespread controversy” when in fact his statements were not reported in most other papers. Awa had alleged that a number of presidential candidates receive campaign funding from abroad and that their campaign spending has exceeded the legal limit.

Al-Tahrir has a look at Coptic voting in the upcoming presidential election and in light of the death of Coptic Orthodox Church head Pope Shenouda III in March. It finds that, unlike in previous elections when Copts “would vote for whatever was chosen for them by church leaders,” there is division within Coptic ranks about the best presidential candidate.

Al-Shorouk reports that in Fayoum, the Muslim Brotherhood is handing out leaflets in which it claims its Renaissance Project, which forms the basis of Morsy’s campaign, “is the project of the Prophet Mohamed.”

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

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