Wednesday’s papers: Elections body on hiatus over tiff with Parliament

State daily Al-Ahram and independent Al-Tahrir take very different approaches to the tiff between the Presidential Elections Commission and the People’s Assembly that took place on Sunday evening.

The commission took umbrage at comments made by MPs during discussion of the parliamentary elections law and suspended its activities in protest. There was immediate speculation about whether this decision would affect the timing of the presidential election, scheduled to take place on 23 and 24 May.

Al-Ahram quotes a judicial source as saying that suspension of the commission’s activities would not result in halting the fast-approaching elections because the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is “determined to hold the elections on the scheduled date.”

Al-Tahrir on its front page screams that commission head Farouk Sultan “might resign,” and writes that the People’s Assembly debate that prompted the commission to freeze its activities risks “exacerbating political tension in coming days, especially if there is any reaction of a nature that affects the date of the elections.”

On the next page, Al-Tahrir quotes Local Development and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohamed Ahmed Attiya as saying that the crisis will be solved in the coming days and will not affect the timing of the election.

Independent Youm7 runs a column by politician Ayman Nour entitled “I smell a conspiracy!” in which he postulates that Sunday’s announcement by the commission was a dry run for a statement he predicts it will issue on 2 June after the trial verdict against former President Hosni Mubarak is handed down.

“The PEC will change small details in their statement about the security situation and the dangers the PEC regards as necessitating the second stage of the elections,” Nour writes.

“The decision to postpone would not in these circumstances have been made by SCAF, or by the Muslim Brotherhood or political powers who don’t want an elected president, but rather will have been taken through a judicial decree from a committee that alleges it is judicial in nature and whose decisions cannot be challenged! I smell a conspiracy. God protect us,” he says.

Muslim Brotherhood mouthpiece Freedom and Justice quotes FJP lawmaker Sobhi Saleh as denying that MPs insulted the elections commission and quotes Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud as saying that the commission’s decision to halt its activities “increase fears and concerns that … the PEC is trying to postpone the election.”

In an article titled “Cloning the government,” party paper Al-Wafd quotes an unnamed “high-level” Cabinet source as saying that the embattled government led by Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri “will resign within hours” and that the SCAF will charge him with forming a new caretaker government. Ganzouri will then reappoint the same ministers that are serving in the current government, the article alleges.

Consistent with its usual anti-Muslim Brotherhood tone, Al-Tahrir reports that Brotherhood students are breaking the campaigning ban on campuses by erecting banners and posters and recruiting volunteers for FJP candidate Mohamed Morsy.

In its roundup of People’s Assembly committee news, independent Al-Shorouk reports that a joint parliamentary committee is considering “important amendments” to the Police Authority Law and discussion of the Judicial Authority Law.

It also reports that the Proposals and Complaints Committee has approved amendments put forward by the justice minister and Al-Azhar officials that would toughen the penalty for deliberate errors in reproductions of the Quran to 10 to 15 years in prison and a fine of no less than LE100,000.

In a special report, Freedom and Justice lashes out against state and private media coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Many satellite channels — the majority of which are owned by feloul [remnants] from the former regime or liberals — are intensifying their intense media campaigns against the Muslim Brotherhood in a deliberate attempt to sully their image and take away from the popularity in the street,” the paper writes.

In a follow-up on Friday’s Abbasseya Square violence, state daily Al-Gomhurriya reports an “exclusive” video from the army’s Morale Affairs Department that it says “confirms people carrying black [Islamist] flags from Al-Qaeda as well as members of the Egyptian Revolutionary Guard modeled on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, whose aim is to destroy the state in Egypt.” The video, Al-Gomhurriya says, “is filled with the blood of armed forces men that purified the land at Abbasseya.”

Returning to the election, Morsy, Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh and Amr Moussa are the three candidates who most “pollute” the governorate with campaigning material, according to Giza Governorate, Youm7 reports.

The award for strangest headline of the day goes to privately owned daily Al-Watan: “A part of Balkimy’s nose before the criminal court,” it reads.

Former Nour Party MP Anwar al-Balkimy faces charges of making false claims, forgery and bothering the authorities after it was revealed that he pretended he had been the victim of an armed robbery to cover up his nose job.

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

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