Wednesday’s papers: NGO debacle still making front pages

The ongoing case regarding unregistered, foreign-funded NGOs in Egypt and their employees is still making headlines in both state and independent papers Wednesday.

Independent daily Youm7 reports that the government and the ruling military council came under fire during Tuesday’s session of the upper house of Parliament for allowing American defendants in the NGO trial to flee the country last week.

Reporting on the same news, state-run Al-Akhbar highlights on its front page the quotes of cabinet ministers denying the accusations.

“The case was referred from the cabinet to the judiciary since last October,” says Fayza Abouelnaga, who has served as minister of planning and international cooperation for more than a decade.

Civil Aviation Minister Hussein Massoud, who faced harsh criticism from MPs on the decision to lift the travel ban on the foreign defendants, said their plane took off on the order of the ruling military council. Seven Americans left the country on a special plane to Cyprus last week. Eight other foreigners were also allowed to leave Egypt.

Independent paper Al-Shorouk reports that the Muslim Brotherhood is still discussing who it will back in the fast-approaching presidential race.

It is reported that the highly organized Islamist group, whose Freedom and Justice Party won more than 40 percent of parliamentary seats, will likely back either former Information Minister Mansour Hassan or Islamist candidate Mohamed Selim al-Awa.

Al-Shorouk also runs a report on the Brotherhood’s talks with the ultra-conservative Salafi Nour Party to reach a consensus on a candidate.  

Al-Akhbar focuses on the campaigns of two frontrunners in the thus far unofficial race, former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and expelled Brotherhood leader Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, and their promises to the public.

In his visit to Sharqiya Governorate, Moussa, who also served as Arab League secretary general, said freedom of speech and human rights are on the top of his agenda. He explained that the country’s political confusion is a normal consequence of the fact that it is practicing democracy for the first time.

Abouel Fotouh pledged that if he wins office, half his cabinet officials will be under age 45. The presidential hopeful emphasized that he has no political affiliation and will run as an independent.

Privately owned daily Al-Dostour writes that Spain has agreed to extradite Magda Salem, the daughter of Egyptian business tycoon Hussein Salem.

Salem and his son Khaled were recently extradited by the Spanish government and are accused of corruption for alleged illicit gains from Egypt’s gas export deal with Israel.

According to Al-Dostour, Spain imposed three conditions on the family’s extradition: that the 15-year prison sentence handed down to Salem in absentia must be reviewed, that the three defendants not face the death penalty, and that if convicted, they have the right to return to Spain to serve their sentences.

Freedom and Justice Party, the mouthpiece paper of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, leads with a headline that reads “Advisory is dying” above a story about the Advisory Council’s wish to dissolve itself.

According to the article, the council held a meeting Tuesday to discuss the issue following a growing number of resignations by members who say the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is ignoring its advisory board’s demands.

The council has shrunk from 30 to 18 as a result of resignations, including those of Moataz Bellah Abdel Fattah and Ahmed Khairy over the SCAF’s use of violence against protesters in December clashes.

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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