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Thursday, 27 August 2020

Egypt’s talk shows: Uptick in covid-19 cases, fines for flunking university + skirting Senate elections

It was a mixed bag of nuts on the airwaves last night, with Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa covering everything from potential fines to those who didn’t vote in this month’s Senate elections to the recent uptick in covid-19 infections.

Covid-19 warning signal: Cabinet spokesman Nader Saad repeated Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and Health Minister Hala Zayed’s warnings yesterday that the country’s accelerating daily covid-19 case count is a warning signal and should remind people that the pandemic hasn’t ended. An earlier slowdown in daily infection rates lulled people into a false sense of safety, but it is imperative that everyone continue to adhere to social distancing measures, Saad stressed (watch, runtime: 42:44).

Saad also debriefed Moussa on a decision to impose fines on public university students who retake exams or repeat an academic term (which we recap in this morning’s Speed Round, below). The fees will be directed towards government investments in education, Saad noted. The government will look at individual cases that may be unable to pay the fees, and will agree to partially or fully waive the fee if students prove they are financially unable to pay. Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar also explained the reasoning behind the decision (watch, runtime: 22:58).

The National Elections Authority has referred a list of all citizens who failed to vote in the Senate elections earlier this month to the public prosecutor’s office, authority head Lasheen Ibrahim told Moussa. Abstainers, who number over 50 mn, can be liable to pay a fine of up to EGP 500, Ibrahim said (watch, runtime: 9:33). The NEA had previously tried to fine those who did not show up at the ballots in the 2018 presidential elections, claiming the Elections Act grants it the right to do so. The story got some attention in the foreign press: AlKhaleej Today | the Associated Press.

Seven suspects involved in the intoxication and [redacted] of an 18-year-old woman at the Fairmont hotel in Cairo fled Egypt last month, the public prosecutor’s office said in a statement. The men boarded flights from Cairo Airport between 27 and 29 July, shortly after allegations revealing their identities emerged on social media, the statement said without identifying their current whereabouts. Two other men currently in Egypt will be brought in, including one involved in the Fairmont case and another involved in “a similar incident,” the prosecutor’s office said. Moussa also took note (watch, runtime: 13:58).

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