Friday,24 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1141, 28 March - 3 April 2013
Friday,24 November, 2017
Issue 1141, 28 March - 3 April 2013

Ahram Weekly

Arrest warrants and travel bans

Gamal Nkrumah writes on steps President Morsi has started taking to muzzle the opposition, and on the sad 10th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq

Arrest warrants and travel bans
Arrest warrants and travel bans
Al-Ahram Weekly

Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdallah’s decision to order the arrest of 23 more activists on charges of inciting violence in last week’s Muqattam clashes in the vicinity of the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters and ban the activists from travelling outside the country caused much consternation among political activists and opposition forces and public anger was reflected in the press. Major anti-Brotherhood activist figures spoke out against the charges levied against them on Monday night, after the prosecutor-general issued official summons, arrest warrants and travel bans pursuant to investigations into charges that they were responsible for last week’s violent clashes in the Cairene suburb of Muqattam.

The independent daily Al-Osbou reported that activist Nawara Negm was among those to be interrogated in relation to these charges. The paper and other independent dailies also reported that Karim Al-Shaer wrote on his Facebook page that he would not present himself before a “pro-Muslim Brotherhood prosecution”, and would refuse to cooperate with investigations. Activist Hazem Abdel-Azim was also quoted as saying that he wouldn’t cooperate with the prosecutors. However, Alaa Abdel-Fattah told satellite channel ONTV that, fearing police reprisals, he would appear before the prosecutor-general.

The prosecutor-general is reportedly planning further measures to clamp down on public disorder and hooliganism. In this respect arrest warrants were issued for activists Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Ahmed Doma, Hazem Abdel-Azim, Karim Al-Shaer and Ahmed Ghoneim. The papers generally reported the general feelings of frustration and simmering anger among the leading opposition parties. Al-Osbou also reported in this connection that the authorities are determined to end the state of lawlessness in the country and restore law and order. Prime Minister Hisham Kandil was quoted in Al-Osbou as saying, “We are determined to reinstate security and end hooliganism.”

Condemning the decision, members of the Kifaya movement have called for a mass prayer in front of the prosecutor-general’s office, staging a mass demonstration and besieging the Supreme Constitutional Court. They also issued a call to storm the Media Production City.

“The policies of the Muslim Brotherhood’s proposed Freedom and Justice Party will be based on Islamic law but will be acceptable to a wide segment of the population,” leading MB member Essam Al-Erian was quoted in the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm as saying in an in-depth report.

“When we look at the revolution’s slogans, such as ‘freedom’ and ‘social justice’ and ‘equality’ — all of these can be found in Islamic law,” declared Al-Erian, according to the paper. “This revolution is calling for what Islamic law calls for.” The contentious issue has led to a flurry of media activity including the press and the television, as well as the Internet.

“He added that the party would not dispense with foreign and Arab investment in Egypt, stressing that the MB supports free-market capitalism, but without manipulation or monopoly,” Al-Erian was quoted as saying.

The paper also noted that Al-Erian was also quoted by the official Middle East News Agency as saying that the party’s political programme would include tourism as a main source of national income. The deplorable state of the Egyptian economy likewise was a major concern of the commentators.

Security, or rather the lack of it, in the country has preoccupied Egyptian pundits. Things came to a head when the MB accused hooligans of the fulul (former regime members) of causing massive disruption in the country and of serious security breeches including attacks on leading characters. “A security presence was increased around President Mohamed Morsi’s home in Al-Tagammu Al-Khamis on Friday afternoon after nearly 200 6 April Movement activists staged a surprise protest there,” Al-Masry Al-Youm noted.

“The guards imposed security cordons and set up iron barricades to prevent the protesters from encroaching on the house. The activists chanted slogans against the president and the Muslim Brotherhood,” the paper reported. A security source told Al-Masry Al-Youm that back-up police forces were deployed to the scene as soon as the protesters arrived. “The 6 April movement posted a statement on its Facebook page claiming that its members besieged Morsi’s home in a surprise move meant to coincide with the opposition protests at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Muqattam today. The movement called on residents in Al-Tagammu Al-Khamis to join in the demonstration against the Morsi administration,” Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

In a separate development, there was much coverage in the Egyptian papers of the supposed alliance between different political parties of conflicting ideological orientations to join hands and form a coalition government. “The Freedom and Justice Party, the Nour Party and the National Salvation Front [NSF] may be discussing the formation of a new cabinet that they hope would replace that led by Prime Minister Hisham Kandil,” Al-Masry Al-Youm noted.

The ministries in such a coalition cabinet would be divided equally among the three parties, and Wafd Party head Al-Sayed Al-Badawi would serve as prime minister, the sources suggested. However, no agreements have been made as yet, they added.

NSF leading figure Amr Moussa said a meeting between the three parties was postponed from last Thursday to an indeterminable date sometime next week to discuss the possibility of forming a new cabinet, and the delay in the parliamentary elections. “I prefer to delay the elections for a year, for the new government to work on saving the economy and restoring security,” Moussa said, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“Popular current founder and NSF leader Hamdeen Sabahi said there are three immediate demands for President Mohamed Morsi’s administration to meet if it hopes to find a solution to the current political crisis. These include the formation of a neutral government, the appointment of a new prosecutor-general from among three judges to be nominated by the Supreme Judicial Council, and the development of a new election law that is approved by all political forces, and that takes into account an equitable division of electoral constituencies,” also according to Al-Masry Al-Youm. “But I believe the NSF should not be part of the new government,” Sabahi was quoted in the paper as saying.

A little covered but vitally important issue that has been largely ignored in the press this week is the extreme water shortage. World Water Day is 22 March. This international event focuses attention on the importance of fresh water, and advocates for a more sustainable management of water resources. On this occasion, Dalia Al-Fiki, of the American University of Cairo who is currently conducting research at the Water Policy and Governance at the National University of Singapore, wrote an analysis on Egypt’s misguided water management programme. In an environmental article in Al-Masry Al-Youm she proposed alternatives to escape what she calls a “governance crisis”.

“Doom is looming: the Nile is our only source of water; we don’t have enough money to finance new sustainable technologies; our infrastructure lags behind in light of increasing water demands. This is the story we have been told repeatedly.

“The water shortage we experience is not related to demand, but rather to poor infrastructure and management practices, which result in gross losses within our water systems,” Al-Fiki noted.

“Water is our country’s most precious resource, and should be treated that way. The Nile should not be taken for granted and the pollution of water resources needs to be dealt with seriously. Industrial workers and farmers should be fined for malpractice and our laws need to be implemented or amended to reflect the importance of water,” Al-Fiki concluded.

On the economic front, many pundits expressed grave concern that the political instability in the country is causing serious economic problems. In Al-Ahram Al-Iqtisady, columnist Rabei Shahin warned that the policy of forcing businessmen to flee the country will have dire consequences for the Egyptian economy. “The policies that the government insists on enforcing bodes ill. For sure, Prime Minister Hisham Kandil is most unfortunate. From the start he assumed office at a most difficult time in the country’s history. His post was in fact suicidal. I strongly recommend that he resigns and relieves both himself and the long-suffering citizens of the country,” Shahin advocated.

 

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