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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Expect nothing but election-talk over the next few weeks

Expect nothing but election-talk over the next few weeks as the “get out and vote” campaign nears the crescendo. Issues of media censorship also featured on a boisterous night last night.

But first, on the economy: Egypt’s bourse hit a record high, with the benchmark EGX30 crossing the 17,000 mark and turnover hitting EGP 2.5 bn. Masaa DMC’s Osama Kamal spoke with an analyst who said the performance came amid continued high foreign interest (watch, runtime: 5:29).

The launch of the operations at the Benban solar farm got attention from Kol Youm’s Amr Adib, who called for more investment in the sector (watch, runtime: 10:14). Al Hayah Al Youm’s Tamer Amin joined in the celebration, saying the event was yet another demonstration of how Egypt is back on its feet (watch, runtime: 3:16).

Censorship of the media was the hottest topic on the airwaves last night. Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi focused a chunk of her episode on the Prosecutor General’s snitch-A-thon for fake news. She sensibly criticized the hotline, saying that it would open the floodgates to partisan attacks on the media. She also said she feared the move would also lead to a backlog of frivolous cases at the Prosecutor General’s office. Lamees is also worried the act would turn Egypt to a society of snitches (watch, runtime: 6:36).

Studies in spinelessness, part I: The former head of the Cairo Court of Appeals Abdel Sattar Imam defended the decision, citing national security reasons (watch, runtime: 6:25). Press Syndicate head Abdel Mohsen Salama said he would be in touch with the Prosecutor General soon to get a better understanding of the decision (watch, runtime: 2:14). So much for advocating for your industry, dude. Over on Masaa DMC, Kamal said that attacking the decision was unfair, especially considering how countries such as France and Germany have similar measures to rein-in fake news (watch, runtime: 2:50). Since he stopped short of citing the laws in question, we may be putting in a call to the hotline on Kamal himself.

Studies in spinelessness, part II: Kamal also looked at the Cyber Crimes Act, currently with parliament’s ICT Committee, which would grant the government the right to block websites. The committee’s head Nidal Al Saeed called in to defend the bill, saying that it lays down the rights and duties of the service provider and the end use and ensures that websites that disseminate hatred and misleading news would be closed (watch, runtime: 11:29). We have more on the bill in the Speed Round.

The talking heads are frantically raising the buggles and calling for high turnout at the polls. Masaa DMC’s Kamal recited President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s achievements over the past four years (watch, runtime: 7:32). Al Hayah Al Youm’s Tamer Amin said that the turnout would reflect how Egyptians feel about the economic reforms, and they should come out in droves. He notes National Election Commision figures that over 59 mn people would be eligible to vote (watch, runtime: 5:22). Hona Al Asema’s Lamees acknowledged that there is no real competition in the elections and the results are a foregone conclusion (watch, runtime: 26:14).

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