Sunday’s papers: Excluding remnants … fearing for elections … Lady Gaga

For what must be at least the third time in the last few months, state-run papers run headlines declaring the government’s intention to bar former members of the National Democratic Party (NDP) from participating in the coming round of elections. “The law on corrupting political life … in hours,” says state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper. Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy told Al-Akhbar that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is set to issue a decree with the law soon, and is currently putting the finishing touches on it.

Recent court cases in the Mansoura and Alexandria governorates highlighted the issue in the context of the coming parliamentary elections, despite the SCAF’s refusal over the past few months to formally ban former NDP members from running in the elections.

The Mansoura Administrative Court issued a ruling banning former NDP members from running in the coming elections, while the Alexandria Administrative Court refused to issue such a ruling. Independent Al-Shorouk calls the Alexandria ruling a “kiss” for the remnants of the Mubarak regime. 

“It’s an important decision, although it came late,” state-run Al-Ahram quotes Amr Hamzawy, a candidate in the coming elections, as saying. The state’s flagship paper insinuated that the decision could possibly disrupt many political parties’ lists in areas such as South Sinai. Many parties and candidates have filed similar lawsuits — to ban NDP members from running — after the Mansoura ruling in Beheira and Port Said governorates. The administrative courts in Cairo and Mansoura are expecting 90 and 19 additional appeals, respectively, against alleged former NDP members.

The Wafd Party’s paper thinks that the potential wave of NDP exclusions from the elections may disrupt the process to a standstill. “Fears the elections will be canceled,” reads Al-Wafd's main headline. Of course, recently the Wafd Party itself has been accused of acting as a political Hoover vacuum, sucking up a string of stray former NDP members to run in the coming elections.

Independent Al-Tahrir’s Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim Eissa echoes Wafd’s fears, but from another perspective, in his daily column for the paper. Eissa thinks that “SCAF’s [and its civilian government’s] abhorrent failure to restore law and order in the streets” might make for much more bloody and chaotic elections than before. He asks, “will this be the first round of elections, and the last?”

The state of lawlessness and depleted security is reflected in the amount of violence seen in different governorates around Egypt the last few days alone. Al-Shorouk reports on gunfire and violence in the Sharqiya Governorate, the discovery of an explosives weapons cache in Arish city, and deadly gunfire caused by a family feud in the Assiut governorate. All of this was yesterday alone. 

To top it all off, the Damietta port was shut down yesterday as locals protested against the expansion of a factory that they fear will contaminate their water supply.  According to Al-Ahram, Prime Minster Essam Sharaf has appointed a committee of eight ministers to look into the issue. Al-Ahram focuses on the economic aspect of the port closing, but with no real information on the potential environmental damage of the MOPCO-Agrium plant to be built. None of the papers comment on how refreshing it is to have a actual protest on environmental grounds in Egypt!

An official statement from the central bank governor yesterday said that former President Hosni Mubarak’s money outside the country has yet to be handed over to Egypt. According to Al-Ahram, the money the Mubarak family has stashed in its Swiss accounts has been there for a long time and was not laundered out from Egyptian banks. 

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) issued an order to all local banks banning them from transferring money from the Mubarak family abroad without the express approval of the CBE, adding that they have not yet approved any transfers. Al-Shorouk says that the CBE in fact ordered most of the Mubarak accounts be frozen, including LE200 million in the Ahly Bank. 

Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar report extensively on the Arab League’s decision to suspend Syria’s membership until it fulfills its promises. According to Al-Akhbar, if the Syrian government does not provide support for Syrian civilians, the Arab League will attempt to get international human rights organizations and the UN to step in. The sly foxes at Al-Akhbar put a picture of SCAF Spokesperson Mohsen al-Fangary next to a headline (right under its Syria story) reminding everyone that the SCAF is paying out compensation to families of the revolution's martyrs.

In its tradition of excellence and relevance, Al-Akhbar includes a vital piece of information conveniently on page 2: “Lady Gaga … The Beast.”  This gem of a spot news item is in reference to pop super-star Lady Gaga’s decision to release a new line of perfume called, “The Beast.”  Unlike Al-Akhbar, we have decided to leave this vital piece of information until the very end, to trick you into reading the whole press review before coming to the meat of the day’s news in Egypt: Lady Gaga’s perfume.

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Youm7: Daily, privately owned

Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned

Freedom and Justice: Daily, published by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party

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