Mubarak back in Tora
PROSECUTOR-GENERAL Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud ordered the return of former president Hosni Mubarak to Tora Prison Hospital after his health improved. Mubarak was transferred to Tora from Maadi Military Hospital on Monday evening at 6.30 while being escorted by a medical team.
Mahmoud's decision on 16 July came after a team of doctors, formed earlier this month, reported that Mubarak's health had improved. Mubarak was transferred to the Maadi Hospital in mid-June following heart failure, which led to rumours of his death.
Adel El-Said, spokesman for the prosecutor-general, said the interior minister and Egypt's prison services had been informed of Mahmoud's decision to transfer the 84-year-old Mubarak back to Tora.
Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison last month for his role in the death of unarmed protesters during last year's revolution.
Boosting Tunisia ties
TUNISIAN President Moncef Marzouqi visited Egypt on 13 July, meeting newly elected President Mohamed Mursi. Accompanied by a diplomatic delegation, Marzouqi began the two-day visit to Cairo with the Egyptian-Tunisian summit, the first to be hosted by Mursi.
Marzouqi told a joint news conference that the relationship between Egypt and Tunisia had been "strong and firm for a long time" but renewed energy now meant greater cooperation benefiting both countries. "All channels of political communication between both countries will be opened for consultation on matters of concern to the Arab world," Mursi said.
The current situation in the Arab countries, as well as the Palestinian cause were on top of the meeting's agenda. During the meeting, it was proposed that Egypt and Tunisia be as integrated as the European Union. Mursi condemned the bloodshed in Syria but added that "Tunisia and Egypt do not accept military intervention." Speaking about Palestine, Mursi emphasised that both nations "stand at an equal distance to all Palestinian factions" while confirming their joint-support for the "Palestinian right to self-determination and establishing an independent state."
Two Americans, Egyptian freed
AFTER three days of negotiations with Bedouins, two American tourists and their Egyptian guide have been released. The Americans along with the Egyptian were kidnapped in the Sinai Peninsula on 13 July by a Bedouin who wanted to pressure Egyptian authorities to release his uncle who is being held on drug charges.
According to an official source who refused to be identified, negotiations were mediated by Bedouin elders but refused to provide any details about the terms of the deal. "The two have been released after successful negotiations and they are now in the North Sinai security headquarters," said the official source.
Sinai has seen a series of kidnappings throughout the past year. Abducted tourists are rarely harmed and usually released within a few days.
THE EGYPTIAN Intelligence Agency last week aired a documentary marking its 57th anniversary. The documentary which was aired on 10 July was preceded by a huge campaign of extensive advertisement.
The one-hour documentary, A Nation's Word, focussed on the agency's history since 1954 as well as the history of the region since 1948. It presented a quick history of the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula and how the service was founded after former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser came to power in 1952. Successful operations against Israel by Rifaat El-Haggan and Gomaa El-Shawan were highlighted, in addition to the arrest of spies, such as Azam Azam. Anti-terrorist operations, such as the arrest of a terrorist cell that attempted to blow up a Nile cruise boat, were also praised.
Mohamed El-Zayat, head of the National Centre for Middle East Studies, said broadcasting the documentary was not only to celebrate the agency's 57th anniversary but to present the real history and value of the agency to the nation. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the intelligence agency are working in parallel in the best interests of the country," said El-Zayat, highlighting its work on the Palestinian issue and on relations with Nile Basin countries.
Mohamed Ibrahim Shaker, head of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, said, "the screening of this documentary came at a perfect time considering the huge political changes taking place in Egypt. It was important to introduce the role of the security apparatus, especially to show there are threats and challenges facing the country."
Protests of all sizes
SEVERAL demonstrations have been sweeping the country. Hundreds of Education Ministry employees raided the ministry's headquarters on 16 July demanding salary raises. Angry employees interrupted a press conference held by Education Minister Gamal El-Arabi chanting "We don't want him". El-Arabi accused the employees of exploiting the current political situation to demand what he called "rights they don't deserve. They have already received raises."
A strike by thousands of textile workers at the state-owned Mahalla Spinning and Weaving Company entered its third day. The strike began on 15 July. Company workers want the dismissal of the chairman, Fouad Abdel-Alim for what they alleged was corruption. They are also asking for a greater share of the 2011 company profits and larger end-of-service bonuses. Company employees currently receive profit shares equivalent to four and a half months of their basic salaries. When they leave the company's employment, they receive a bulk payment equivalent to two months of pay for every year with the company. Protesters want this to be increased to three months.
On Sunday, hundreds of microbus drivers protested in Cairo. Drivers blocked Salah Salem road for hours, claiming high fees to renew their licences. An official employee at the traffic department said the drivers want to renew their annual licence without paying fines. "This is the government's right and regulations. They want to violate the law; this is nonsense," the official said.
Hundreds of workers of the United Sugar Company (USCE), which is majority-owned by the Saudi-based Savola Group, also protested in Suez governorate on Monday to press their demands for extra pay. Protesters gathered in Port Tawfiq, saying company officials had ignored their previous protests. A 20-day sit-in staged at USCE's factory in Ain Sokhna brought production there to a halt. Workers want to be paid a new risk allowance, ranging from LE500 to LE900 per month. Some claim to be allergic to materials used in the packaging of the company's sugar products. USCE employs roughly 520 workers at its Ain Sokhna premises.
Meantime, doctors are protesting against low wages and lack of security at public hospitals. Doctors want to increase the Health Ministry's share of the country's general budget from 3.5 per cent to at least 15 per cent, safeguarding hospitals against attacks by thugs, mapping out a fair structure for salaries and improving the status of the country's hospitals by providing it with proper medical equipment and training of staff.