Mahlab sacked as Sisi asks for Cabinet’s resignation. Ismail to form gov’t.
- Mahlab sacked as Sisi asks for Cabinet’s resignation
- Former oil minister Sherif Ismail to form new cabinet
- Inflation eases in August
- CBE and US Fed to review interest rates this week
- Finance Ministry’s stolen gold has been recovered
- Your blood pressure should be below 120
- ** By the Numbers + The CBE faces competing pressures on interest rates **
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY
Now-former Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail has six days left to form a cabinet following the resignation of the Mahlab government yesterday, apparently at the request of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. More in Speed Round, below.
The board of Permanent Bureau of Governors of Arab Central Banks and Monetary Institutions will meet this morning in Heliopolis. Central Bank of Egypt Governor Hisham Ramez is expected to chair the closed-door gathering, which will discuss regional trends and review a follow-up report on a proposed regional clearing and settlement house.
Egypt will play against the USA in the first round of the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup today. The match is being held in Japan, and will air at 6 am Cairo local time at the following livestream link here.
11k members of state-owned Egyptian Iron and Steel worker’s union have threatened to join a sit-in today if their demands for an Eid advance are not met, El Watan reports.
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING THIS WEEK
It’s all conferences, all the time this week, with offerings including:
- Cityscape: Egypt Real Estate Summit. And a forum / awards thing. And an exhibition.
- SPE North Africa Technical Conference and Exhibition
- Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) high-level meeting, Cairo.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will hold its 70th session on Tuesday, 15 September. Expect social media campaigns targeting President El Sisi to be organised by the Ikhwan.
The Rugby World Cup begins on Friday with hosts England taking on Fiji. You can view the fixture list here. In the Middle East, games will be shown on OSN.
LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS
The resignation of Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and the Council of Ministers was the talk of the town on Saturday.
Lamis El Hadidy, host of Hona El Assema, didn’t waste time delving into the topic. The host kicked off-her the program by thanking Mahlab and his ministers for their service to the Egyptian people, adding that “Despite his shortcomings, Mahlab did not fail in his duty.” El Hadidy, however, did take the opportunity to criticize the Mahlab government for its “lack of vision and the inability of its ministers to coordinate with one another.”
El Hadidy then proceeded to highlight the achievements and qualifications of the man nominated to be Egypt’s next Prime Minister, Oil and Natural Resources Minister Sherif Ismail. “Sherif Ismail has proven he has the qualifications of a successful leader. He has achieved so much, while working in silence … Ismail played a central role in solving the country’s electricity crisis. Moreover, he successfully convinced IOCs to renew their investments and exploration activities in Egypt.”
El Hadidy concluded her discussion by dismissing reports that the agriculture minister’s corruption scandal was the primary reason behind Cabinet’s resignation. “There has been for a while a feeling among authority figures that … there was a need to introduce a new prime minister who could look at the country’s problems from a different perspective.”
Meanwhile, Osama Kamal, host Al Kahera 360, echoed similar sentiments on his program, praising Mahlab for his service, and adding that “just as President El Sisi thanked Mahlab for all he has done, it incumbent on us Egyptians to do the same.” Kamal continued his defence of the former prime minister: “Mahlab achieved many things during his time in office. He was the target of harsh criticism and was blamed for many of the things that went wrong over the previous period. Some of this blame was deserved. At other times, however, he had no hand in the matter.”
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Welcome to Egypt this Sunday morning, where it’s anyone’s guess what’s going on and why. Cabinet resigned on Saturday with no official reason given, leaving journalists to speculate that it was associated with the corruption case involving Salah Helal. The Mahlab cabinet will continue in office as a caretaker government until new ministers are sworn in. As to the fate of the yet-to-be established Cabinet, Ahram Online quotes constitutional expert Shawky El Sayed as saying that following elections, “The elected parliament will vote on the programme of the appointed cabinet.” If a majority of the House of Representatives votes against the new government’s platform, the House will nominate a new prime minister, according to the 2014 constitution. (Speaking of the House: The nomination period closed yesterday; candidates now have three additional days in which to complete and submit their physicals following a court decision last week. The committee is reviewing candidates’ papers in the meantime, Al Ahram reports.)
President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi formally requested that Mahlab resign in a meeting after the PM and a delegation of ministers returned from a two-day visit to Tunisia, Al Masry Al Youm reports this morning.
AP says “two officials from the president’s office” have given it the inside track, claiming El Sisi found Mahlab’s final report on his government’s performance “unsatisfying.” The AP notes that the president “in recent months has had to perform tasks that normally should fall to Mehleb, such as arranging meetings with ministers and negotiating business deals with foreign investors, according to the two officials. Mehleb also failed to pressure his ministers into following through on memorandums of understanding that el-Sissi signed during a much-publicized economic summit in March, they said.” (Read)
The official line on the story is here, courtesy Al-Ahram, the government’s newspaper of record.
Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail has been tasked with forming a new government, and he has until the coming Saturday to do it. So who’s the new PM? A mechanical engineer by training, Sherif Ismail is sixty years old and recently returned from medical leave. A two-year veteran of cabinet, Ismail has worked overtime to help solve Egypt’s energy crisis, working to clear back-due payments to international oil companies; giving E&P companies better pricing for natural gas to encourage exploration; backing the lifting of ruinous petroleum and electricity subsidies; and managing negotiations with Eni over its Zohr supergiant natural gas discovery off the Mediterranean coast. Ismail began his career in the private sector, signing on for a brief stint as an engineer at Mobil in Egypt before moving to Enppi (the state-owned EPC contractor for the oil and gas industry; website down at dispatch time this morning), rising to become a board member and the general manager for technical affairs. In 2000, he became undersecretary for petroleum operations and gas affairs at the ministry before going on to head EGAS and GANOPE. He joined cabinet as oil and natural resources minister in July 2013. As of dispatch time, his official bio was still here.
Ismail is also the author of one of the most-clicked links ever in Enterprise — his EEDC presentation headlined “Unlocking Egypt’s Energy Potential.” (pdf)
Reax from political parties: Al Shorouk covers ‘reaction’ from Al Wafd and Al Tagamoa, old-line political parties dating to 1977-78 and ‘representing’ the right- and left-wings of the political spectrum, respectively. Neither party was able to muster much in the way of a critique of the Mahlab government’s policies or performance. Al Wafd’s Sherif Hamouda suggested the resignation was likely the result of an incident in Tunisia in which Tunisian journalist asked Mahlab about allegations of corruption. Al Tagamoa vice-president Refat Al Saeed added that the Mahlab Cabinet did not resign, but rather was sacked. (We say ‘representing’ grudgingly given both parties are practically dysfunctional and intellectually bankrupt.) Sahwat Masr spokesman Rami Galal said that the former cabinet caused “political and social problems,” while Al Masreyeen El Ahrar said that the resignation was “expected.”
Are bankers really happy? Al Mal reports that at least two bankers welcomed the cabinet shuffle, saying it would have a positive impact on the foreign exchange market after former Investment Minister Ashraf Salman’s suggestion last week that the EGP should be allowed to devalue resulted in “paralysis” in the FX market.
The game of who will stay and who will go has already begun: Planning Minister Ashraf Al-Arabi refused to comment on whether he expected to return to office in the Ismail government. Al-Arabi expects to pass the week studying the impact of the Chinese economic slowdown on the Egyptian economy. Expect more stories in this vein — along with “exclusives” about who’s in and who’s out — for the rest of the week.
Mahlab’s final cabinet meeting took place on Thursday after the gang returned from Tunisia. On the table were issues of national security, the clampdown on corruption, and state preparations for Eid Al Adha and the new school year. The only outcome of the meeting to have been made public: Gaucher’s Disease has been included on the list of conditions for which the state provides full coverage under the national health insurance program, Youm7 reported.
Kick the man while he’s down: Al Mal, a cheerleader for the now-former PM mere hours ago, featured what it called the “five sins of the Mahlab government” yesterday, which it says included the manner in which the former cabinet issued the Investment law; the Civil Service Act; cabinet’s mismanagement of the cotton crisis and income tax problems; and the Investment Minister’s remarks about the government’s belief the EGP was overvalued.
Mahlab’s post-retirement plans: Television presenter Ahmed Moussa stated that according to unnamed sources, Mahlab will serve as a presidential advisor on national projects. Prior to his appointment as PM, Mahlab was best-known for having been Chairman and CEO of state-owned construction and engineering giant Arab Contractors for more than a decade. (Read in Arabic)
<snark> Former prime minister Kamal Ganzouri was accidentally released from deep freeze following the Cabinet’s resignation, but following clarification that Sherif Ismail would stay on to run the new government, the Ganz was promptly returned to stasis. (Watch, running time: 54 seconds) </snark>
Eni’s Zohr discovery promises further investment in Egypt “after a lean decade of discoveries, while neglecting the wider Mediterranean whose total estimated reserves theoretically rival those of east Africa,” Reuters suggests. A seismic survey company says Mediterranean demand is focused mostly on Egyptian waters with limited activity in the Western Mediterranean. “Part of the problem is that the Mediterranean’s diverse geology inclines explorers to stay in areas with proven reserves and exploration-friendly governments,” Reuters says. Politics and regulation in Mediterranean countries are complex, confusing, and often subject to sudden change and this is keeping explorers at bay — another challenge to E&P activities regionally.
In non-Zohr energy news: Eni is set to add about 300 mcf of natural gas per day to Egypt’s output through its Noras field in the Western Desert by the end of this year. Three wells for the Noras field will begin production this year, an EGAS official told Daily News Egypt. The extra production quantities expected from the wells will compensate for the natural decline in field output in Egypt. The Noras field was discovered in the West Meleiha concession, of which Eni controls 76% of through its JV, IEOC, with Russia’s Lukoil controlling the remainder.
Annualised headline inflation dropped to 7.9% in August from 8.3% in July, CAPMAS announced. Of the 7.9%, 4.2% came from food price increases as fruit and vegetable prices experienced double-digit increases. 0.72% of the annualised headline rate came from the 16.8% increase in tobacco and alcoholic drinks’ price following the imposition of new taxes. Core inflation dropped to 5.61% from 6.49% in July.
As much as 40 kg of gold stolen from the Finance Ministry’s coinage department has been found and a ministry employee arrested along with two others in connection with the heist. Ahram Online has the lowdown in English; Al-Ahram in Arabic.
No Egyptian troops are on the ground in Yemen, despite earlier reports that 800 troops had been deployed, the Saudi military spokesperson said. There has been no comment from official Egyptian sources.
The United States is sending “at least 75 additional troops … including a light-infantry platoon and a surgical team, as well as surveillance equipment and other assets … to improve protection for U.S. peacekeepers in the northern Sinai Peninsula.” This comes in the aftermath of a recent roadside bomb attack that wounded four US soldiers and two Fijians who were part of the MFO peacekeeping forces. “The officials were not authorized to discuss the details publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity… plans for additional security measures were in the works before last week’s attack,” the AP said. The US has about 720 soldiers in Sinai as part of the multinational force that monitors compliance with the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
MOVES- Mark Stephens, the British Council’s director for Egypt, has left Egypt after five years. UK Ambassador to Egypt John Casson unleashed a four-part micro-tweetstorm recapping Stephens’ accomplishments in numbers. There was no news on the British Council’s website at dispatch time today about a replacement.
Following news last week that Singapore’s Temasek Holdings has teamed up with Savola Group to bid for Americana: Americana’s board said it is unaware of “any bids for a stake in the company and there have been no developments that would cause unusual trading in its shares,” Reuters reported.
The Netherlands’ Deltares has withdrawn from studies of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, next round of tripartite meetings to be held in Cairo: Dutch consultancy firm Deltares has opted out of continuing in its role in preparing impact assessment studies on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to an email sent from the firm to Ahram Hebdo, as translated by Ahram Online. The firm reportedly was not provided with sufficient assurances that an independent and quality study could be produced. There is no word on how or if this will affect French consultancy firm BRL’s continued participation. Former irrigation minister Mohamed Nasr Allam, in an interview with Ahram Hebdo published on 19 August which we noted the following day, accurately predicted Deltares’ withdrawal from the studies: “This situation might end in one of three scenarios: either the two companies will back out of conducting the studies, or the Dutch company will back out of it and the French company will conduct the studies alone … or the two companies will manage to reach a collaborative work plan.” Allam also warned in the same interview that there is a clear danger that Ethiopia may be able to fill or partially fill the GERD by the time the studies are finally complete. The next meeting of the tripartite committee will take place in Cairo, according to now-former irrigation minister Hossam Moghazy on Wednesday, though no date has yet been fixed.
At least 107 were killed on Friday when a crane collapsed and crashed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque amid high winds. Some 238 have so far been reported injured in the accident, which happened less than two weeks before the start of the hajj. An investigation into the incident is ongoing. At least 23 Egyptians were injured and two were killed in the incident, according to a ministry of health spokesperson on Saturday.
How low should your blood pressure go? A new study released on Friday appears to suggest that getting your systolic blood pressure (the top number) down to 120 or below carries significant health benefits, even if it means taking additional medication to do so. Reporting on a U.S. study that was halted a year early because its authors had “potentially lifesaving information,” the New York Times notes: “The study found that patients who were assigned to reach a systolic blood pressure goal below 120 — far lower than current guidelines of 140, or 150 for people over 60 — had their risk of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes reduced by a third and their risk of death reduced by nearly a quarter. The study was originally set for public dissemination in 2017, but the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute deemed it important enough to public health to release it ahead of time, with the full study’s release set for a few months from now. The findings of the yet-to-be released study should be of interest to all Egyptians in possession of one or more plastic bags filled with dozens of medications for hypertension, among other ailments. (As in: To a whole lot of us.)
EGYPT IN THE NEWS
George Clooney urged Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to pressure Egypt to release jailed Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy on Saturday. Clooney made the remarks from the red carpet of the Toronto International Film Festival. (Read)
Picking up where Reuters left off last week, Australia’s ABC writes on “the brutal crackdown on dissent and freedom of expression” in Egypt. Focusing on “political prisoners,” it largely follows the story of Esraa el Taweel, a 25-year-old woman who was “surrounded by plainclothes police officers” and jailed without charge for connection to an “illegal organisation” and “spreading false news”. A total of “250 Egyptian political prisoners” are claimed to have died due to negligence and abuse in the past two years. (Read)
Following the passage of the counterterrorism law, “several young Egyptians have already been arrested and could face sentences of 10 years in prison or even death,” Emily Crane Linn writes for Al Monitor criticising the law. “The only entity that has the authority to repeal the law at this time is the Supreme Constitutional Court,” Al Monitor was told.
WHAT YOU CLICKED ON LAST WEEK
The most-clicked links in Enterprise last week were:
- A roundup of current passenger car prices in Egypt (A JPG of a full newspaper page, so be ready to pinch and zoom. Al Borsa)
- Gas find promises sea change in the Med (The FT on Eni’s Zohr discovery, a find “so big it can transform an economy.” FT, paywall)
- Are you among the richest 10% of Egyptians? (You are if you can afford to spend EGP 3,497 a month or more. Explore Egyptian income and expenditure patterns in this PDF from CAPMAS. Arabic only)
- Egypt’s balance of payments performance 2014-15 (The Central Bank of Egypt’s press release on the subject. PDF)
- Challenges to scale for startups in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE (A report from Wamda, September 2015. PDF) (tie)
- Oil Producing Countries Feel Impact of Falling Price (Video of interview with EFG Hermes head of MENA strategies Simon Kitchen. Bloomberg) (tie)
We walk together: a Syrian family’s journey to the heart of Europe. Writes the Guardian: “Thousands of refugees were sleeping rough at Budapest’s Keleti station, waiting for trains to take them to western Europe. Then, they just got up and walked. Guardian journalist and filmmaker John Domokos went with them, every step of the way.” (Running time: 16:58)
There is no rift between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry said. The two countries are planning for a visit by the Saudi King to Cairo, but a final date is yet to be finalised.
MFA blog post: The Egyptian judiciary’s glass ceiling: The MFA blog published a new post on Saturday, this time authored by Ambassador Moushira Khattab, Chair of the Women in Foreign Policy Group (Egyptian Council of Foreign Affairs) and Former Minister of Family and Population of Egypt. Khattab uses the recent appointment of Judge Ghada El Shahawi as the Assistant Minister of Justice (although how long that appointment will last in light of the latest reshuffle is anyone’s guess), as well as the newly-created department within the ministry of justice dedicated to “The Rights of the Woman and Child” as a springboard to chart women’s struggles to break into the Egyptian judiciary. Khattab notes that the State Council voted against permitting women to join, despite there being no legal basis for the judges to hold the vote in the first place. The State Council has yet to appoint a woman despite the Supreme Constitutional Court declaring their vote null and void. (Read Egyptian Women: Breaking through new barriers?)
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo on Thursday, with the latter on a two-day visit that started on Wednesday. Ahead of his visit, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing for two days last week to allow Palestinians to reach Saudi Arabia for the hajj pilgrimage. Also on Thursday, the United Nations announced that the Palestinian flag will fly at the UN headquarters, according to a UN release.
Eni Delegation in Cyprus, says Cypriot gas could reach Europe via Egypt
The Daily Star, Cyprus Mail | 09-10 Sep 2015
A delegation from Eni, headed by CEO Claudio Descalzi, was in Cyprus to meet with government officials, including President Nicos Anastasiades. Descalzi said “there’s an ‘opportunity’ to process Cypriot gas at the company’s Damietta facility in Egypt for export to Europe.” Eni, which has a licence to explore for gas in Cyprus’ EEZ through its Eni-KOGAS consortium with South Korea, is negotiating a two-year extension until February 2018 for the deal. The consortium wanted to re-evaluate geological model after it twice failed to find exploitable hydrocarbons in Block 9. Despite Eni’s Zohr discovery in Egypt, Cyprus Mail says “talks aimed at a [gas export] framework deal are ongoing with Cairo.” (Read and here)
Oil Ministry increases strategic reserves of gasoline and diesel
Al Mal | 10 Sep 2015
The Oil Ministry has increased its held reserves of gasoline and diesel to the equivalent of 10-12 days’ worth, up from 7-5 days, Minister Sherif Ismail announced. The Ministry is already engaged in projects to increase the country’s fuel storage capacity. This includes an EGP 146 mn project to increase storage in Alexandria and Sohag that is expected to be ready by mid-next year. (Read in Arabic)
Toyota Tsusho assessing building a USD 10 mn solar power plant
Al Mal | 10 Sep 2015
Toyota Tsusho is assessing investing USD 10 mn to build a solar power station near the Suez Canal development axis. The company already has USD 500 invested in Egypt but is also assessing growth opportunities. Toyota Tsusho told Al Mal it is focusing on investment opportunities by the Red Sea. (Read in Arabic)
ACWA Power seeks USD 150 mn loan to finance new energy projects in Egypt
Amwal Al Ghad English edition | 08 Sep 2015
Saudi-based ACWA Power is negotiating over a USD 150 mn loan to help finance two energy generation projects in Egypt, according to ACWA’s country manager Hassan Amin on Tuesday. The projects will cost a total of USD 200 mn, 75% of which the company is seeking from banks, with the other 15% financed by the company. Amin stated that the company is awaiting the power purchase agreement (PPA) to be issued by the government within the coming weeks. (Read)
Czech textile firm Pegas signs deal for new Egypt production line
Reuters | 10 Sep 2015
Czech artificial textile maker Pegas Nonwovens signed a contract for the delivery of a new production line in its Egyptian plant, Reuters reported. The production line is expected to begin operations in 2Q2017 and would raise annual production capacity to 45k tonnes. Pegas’ Chief Executive, Frantisek Rezac, commented on the deal saying he considered it “an expansion technology platform which is suitable for penetration into new, especially developing markets.” (Read)
REAL ESTATE + HOUSING
Orascom Hotels and Development signs USD 20 mn agreement with ALCOM
Company Press Release | 10 Sep 2015
Orascom Hotels and Development (OHD) announced the signing of a USD 20 mn sub-development agreement with ALCOM for Touristic Development S.A.E, a Hassan Allam Properties Company. The agreement is to sub-develop 100k sqm of land in Gouna. OHD has already received 15% of the total deal value. “ALCOM is planning to establish a real estate and touristic project on the designated plot located west of the Ancient Sands project,” the press release noted. (Read)
** Further reading in Real Estate + Housing: It’s always enjoyable to read eviscerations of Hernando de Soto’s writing on land titling in the Egyptian context, especially given that he’s peddled the same line since Nazif’s cabinet. (Read Land Titling: Is It the Solution for Egypt’s Informal Areas?)
AUTOMOTIVE + TRANSPORTATION
Ministries assessing project to connect Lake Victoria to Mediterranean
Al Masry Al Youm | 09 Sep 2015
Egypt is assessing undertaking a project connecting Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean via rail, said International Cooperation Ministry Undersecretary Hend Abdel Fattah. The project aims to support and improve logistical services between Egypt and the Nile Basin countries. The parties involved are now conducting pre-feasibility studies, which are estimated to cost USD 650k. A USD 10 mn feasibility study is set to follow. (Read in Arabic)
EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS
Nour Party gives up two lists to allow for electoral competition, decision “proves difference between Nour and Muslim Brotherhood”
Al Shorouk | 10 Sep 2015
The Salafist Nour Party has decided to give up two of its four electoral lists in response to allegations that they were seeking the majority of the parliament seats, says Sayed Khalifa, Vice President of the Nour Party. “This step should prove that we are not like the Muslim Brotherhood,” he added, “our aim is to relieve political tension.” The party has still not made a decision about its spokesperson, Nader Bakar, running in the elections, he added. (Read in Arabic)
Fi Hob Masr bloc excludes Shafiq and party
Al Shorouk | 10 Sep 2015
The Fi Hob Masr bloc coordinating committee has decided to exclude former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq and his party, the Patriotic Movement, from its electoral bloc, despite an earlier statement from bloc leader Sameh Seif El-Yazal announcing that the party would participate with seven candidates. Coordinating Committee member Emad Gad said the negotiations with Ahmed Shafiq went on until the last minute, but ultimately failed because of the Patriotic Movement Party’s insistence on including Mubarak’s NDP figures. (Read in Arabic)
Sharq TV presenter Mohamed Nasser sentenced to eight years in absentia
Al Masry Al Youm, BBC | 10 Sep 2015
The Doqqi Criminal Court in Giza sentenced Sharq television anchor Mohamed Nasr to eight years in prison and an EGP 800 fine for allegedly attempting to “overthrow the political regime”. An unnamed lawyer had filed a complaint to now-deceased Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat accusing Nasr of spreading falsified news, inciting against the military and police, and accepting money from countries that support the Ikhwan to “overthrow the country’s institutions.” Nasser was sentenced in absentia as the channel broadcasts from Turkey. Nasser has previously called on “the revolutionaries” to kill police officers. (Read in Arabic)
Sahwat Masr electoral bloc withdraws from elections on court ruling requiring new medical tests for candidates
Al Shorouk, Ahram Online | 10 Sep 2015
The Sahwat Masr electoral bloc announced its withdrawal from parliamentary elections after the Administrative Court rejected an appeal to not require parliamentary candidates to re-submit new medical checkups for all candidates, following previous medical exams taken in February, according to Sahwat Masr coordinator Abdel Galil Mustafa in a press conference on Saturday. The electoral bloc called the ruling requiring new medical examinations “costly.” The bloc includes “the Democratic Current Alliance, the Constitution Party, El-Karama, the Socialist Popular Alliance, Misr El-Horreya, El-Adl, and Egypt’s Popular Current,” according to Ahram Online. (Read in Arabic or in Ahram Online)
** Further reading in Egypt Politics + Economics: Mada Masr has good coverage of the Civil Service Act demonstration which took place in Fustat Park on Saturday, as well as on the media incitement against the protesters in the lead up to the scheduled demonstration. (Read Security attempts to thwart planned civil service protest in authorized area).
Twelve convicted Daesh militants were sentenced to death on Saturday by Zagazig criminal court. The men were convicted “forming a ‘terrorist cell’ with the aim of ‘overthrowing’ the government, ‘disrupting the provisions of the constitution’ and ‘targeting’ security personnel,” Aswat Masriya reports. The Reuters-funded news service suggests the convictions came under the recently passed anti-terror act. El-Watan reports that the verdict is final, having received sign-off from the Grand Mufti, who must offer a non-binding opinion in all death penalty cases.
A total of 64 militants were killed and another 22 were captured on the sixth day of Operation Haq El Shaheed, announced military spokesman, Brigadier General Mohamed Samir. The military also successfully destroyed five explosives storage facilities, added Samir. (Read in Arabic)
ON YOUR WAY OUT
Suez Canal tunnel digging begins January, says Ismail Nagdy, the Supervisor of the new tunnels project and previous head of the National Authority for Tunnels, Al Mal reported. Egypt is expecting a tunnel boring machine from Germany this coming October and will begin digging by the beginning of 2016. The yearlong project will cost an estimated USD 4.2 bn and will connect Ismailiya to Port Said.
Ahmed Ezz is running, after all? Despite a final court ruling barring him from running in elections, and despite concepts associated with that verdict such as the rule of law, former senior member of the National Democratic Party Ahmed Ezz has reportedly (Arabic) gone ahead anyway and submitted his filing to run for the upcoming parliamentary elections. His documents were accepted, according to Ahram Gate, and, like all approved candidates, he was given a special symbol to mark his campaign: a boat.
Jeb Bush on Stephen Colbert: Stephen Colbert took over the reins of CBS’ The Late
Show with his premiere episode on Tuesday, 8 September. Colbert’s guests included George Clooney and Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush. Bush was a little stiff until he was able to read some Trump jokes written by Colbert’s staff. (Watch, running time: 54 seconds)
Al Ahly defeated Mali’s Stad Malien 1-0 on Sunday to reserve a top spot in Group A of the 2015 CAF Confederations Cup, FilGoal reports. Substitute striker Amr Gamal scored the winning goal with less than 15 minutes left to play. Rivals Al Ahly and Zamalek are not likely to meet up in the semi-finals of the CAF Confederations Cup, with Zamalek sitting comfortably atop Group B facing Orlando Pirates of South Africa today. (See game highlights here, running time 4:36)
Eshhad, a project tracking sectarian discrimination and violence in Egypt, recently relaunched its website, and is now organised as an incubated project under TIMEP’s (Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy) umbrella.