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Monday, 4 December 2017

Ahmed Shafik’s “kidnapping” drama in the limelight

The latest chapter in the drama that is former prime minister Ahmed Shafik’s rocky return to Egyptian politics again dominated the airwaves last night. The unveiling of the first Egyptian smart phone and a potential hike in the cost of medicine came in close seconds.

Shafik appeared on Dream TV’s Al Ashera Masa’an to dispel rumors of his kidnapping. The presidential hopeful says he was greeted by airport officials and taken to an upscale hotel since his house had been closed for years. He told host Wael El Ebrashy that he was not deported from the UAE, but that his Emirati hosts had been gracious over the past five years.

Shafik then gave what was possibly the worst apology ever for a video in which heclaimed he was barred from leaving the UAE. Instead of ‘fessing up, Shafik said the video had been inadvertently leaked from his cell phone to Al Jazeera and that he had only recorded it “as a backup option if things didn’t go as planned.” He also told the host that he returned to Egypt to get a sense of whether or not it’s wise to join the 2018 race (watch, runtime: 24:05).

Shafik’s daughter May also alleged to Hona Al Assema’s Lamees Al Hadidi that the formerprime minister was initially planning on announcing his intention to run for president from France, but Emirati officials “politely escorted” him to a plane heading to Cairo when the Al Jazeera video aired (watch, runtime: 3:24).

Kol Youm’s Amr Adib noted that Shafik’s main hurdle now will be collecting enoughsignatures to support his nomination, particularly considering the recent schisms within his political party (watch, runtime: 2:58).

Separately, Adib sat down with SICO Egypt Chairman Mohamed El Sayed Salem to talkabout the first assembled-in-Egypt smartphone, which SICO produced. A base model runs EGP 200 and 4G-compatible handsets start at EGP 1k, Salem said. The company is also eyeing exporting the phone to African and Gulf countries. SICO Egypt has invested EGP 400 mn in its Assiut factory, but plans on raising that figure to EGP 1 bn, Salem added (watch, runtime: 20:55).

Back on Hona Al Assema, Lamees discussed potential hikes of medicine prices. House Health Committee member Abdel Aziz Hamouda claimed that Health Minister Ahmed Rady reached an agreement with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail to increase the prices of active ingredients by 15%, which would translate into a 40% jump in the final product price (watch, runtime: 4:12).

Over on Yahduth fi Masr, Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) head MP MohamedElsewedy told host Sherif Amer said that the House of Representatives is looking into setting up a medical safety authority that would be tasked with ending monopolistic practices in the pharma industry. Elsewedy said the would-be agency could reshape the industry and help keep struggling factories afloat.

House isn’t clamoring for a cabinet shuffle: Elsewedy — who also heads up parliament’s majority bloc, the Support Egypt Coalition — also denied MPs are demand a Cabinet shuffle.

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