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The release of prisoners, a condition for the legitimacy of the National Dialogue 

The “National Dialogue Dilemma” 

Over the past two months, the “national dialogue dilemma,” as Al-Shorouk columnist Abdullah al-Sinnawi calls it, has revolved around the necessary acceleration of the releases. According to MP Maha Abdel Nasser, the release of “opinion leaders” in particular is essential to establish the credibility and transparency of the National Dialogue. The debate continues, particularly because of the lack of consensus on the exact number of political detainees released over the past three months. According to various organizations, including mainly NGOs and, in particular, the Cairo Institute for the Study of Human Rights, the figures vary from 56 to 400 or 700 releases out of an estimated total estimated by the authorities. and civil opposition between 1040 and 2418 detainees. 

Requests that “call for interference” 

These questions, which have occupied a central place in the Dialogue for some time, have become for many sine qua non conditions for its success. Egypt’s international credibility is also at stake, particularly in the run-up to COP27 next November, which places the country in the spotlight. This credibility was jeopardized when Negad El Borai, veteran civil society lawyer and member of the Board of Directors of the National Dialogue, commented on the instruction given to prisoners not to file complaints against the Attorney General (regarding renewal of their detention without evidence) on the grounds that these complaints would be an interference in the independence and competence of the judicial bodies.

The latest news from political prisoners

This criticism formulated by El Borai echoes the refusal of the appeal presented by Alaa Abd El Fattah against Attorney General Hamada El-Sawy. The reason for the complaint is the absence of an investigation after the reports of violence – nine in number – of which Abd El Fattah was allegedly a victim. Deemed “inadmissible” at the beginning of July, it should be the subject of a new appeal this month. Abd El Fattah, who obtained British citizenship last May, continues his 145th day of hunger strike and has still not been allowed visits from his family. He also demands the right to a British consular visit. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for his part , expressed at the end of August, following a telephone discussion with Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, “his hope to see rapid and positive progress on this issue”.

Ahmed Douma – co-founder of the Kefaya and April 6 movements, imprisoned since 2013 and sentenced again to 15 years in prison and fined EGP 6 million in 2019 on charges related to protests in front of the headquarters of the Council of Ministers in 2011 – expects a visit from the National Human Rights Council after he denounced having been the victim of abuse and beatings inflicted by prison guards in mid-August , following a previous attack in mid-July. Finally, the leader of the Egyptian Force Party, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, who suffered a third heart attack during his detention, was denied access to a variety of medications not available in prison, despite numerous requests.

Complaints are therefore multiplying against the prison authorities, in particular those of the Tora complex. The issue of prison abuses and the release of political prisoners was raised in a letter written by Negad El Borai, signed by nineteen rights defenders and addressed to the secretary general of the National Dialogue, Diaa Rashwan. The letter recalls five points to be taken into consideration to ensure the effectiveness of the National Dialogue: the release of detained political prisoners, an end to travel bans, an end to seizures of property by the government, the removal of bureaucratic obstacles to defense of human rights, and finally the regularization of these organizations by the State.

Muslim Brotherhood: one step forward, two steps back

The issue of including the Muslim Brotherhood in the National Dialogue has sparked much controversy over the past two months. Despite Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s call to include voices excluded from the public sphere since the announcement of the National Dialogue in April, it appears that the Brotherhood is not among them. In an interview on the anniversary of the events of July 3, 2013, he declared: “We launched the National Dialogue for all thinkers, unions, intellectuals and political forces, except for one faction .” And in fact, the division is clear between those who support the reconciliation process with the Brotherhood, notably the leader of the Conservative Party Akmal Kortam, and those who are against it, for example the MP and journalist Mostafa Bakry. The latter also called on parliamentary and judicial bodies to take measures against Kortam and firmly refuted the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Dialogue. 

In this thorny context, Ibrahim Mounir, the Brotherhood’s interim supreme guide, told Reuters that the Muslim Brotherhood would stay away from any power struggle with the authorities, and would not participate in political life – whether through a partisan organization or by participating in elections . He also insisted on the refusal of violence in all its forms. He nevertheless clarified that he would be willing to participate in the National Dialogue, because the success of the latter depends, according to him, on the inclusion of “everyone”. 

The debate over the possible return of the Muslim Brotherhood to the public sphere was reignited by the death of Egyptian al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a US drone strike in Kabul in July. The death of al-Zawahiri was an opportunity to shed light on his past, and in particular his affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood at the start of his political career. The Muslim Brotherhood was then described in the media as being the focal point of all violence. The newspaper al-Watan considered the Muslim Brotherhood organization to be “the mother of all extremist groups in the world, including Al-Qaeda.”

The Egyptian economy between transactions and loans 

Following the approval by the House of Representatives of the agreement that allows the Saudi Public Investment Fund to directly acquire assets and business entities in Egypt, Saudi Arabia purchased $1.3 billion of shares in the following companies: Abu Qir Fertilisers and Chemical Industries (ABUK.CA, for 19.8%), Misr Fertilisers Production Company (MFPC.CA), Alexandria Container and Cargo Handling (ALCN.CA, for of 20%) and E-Finance for Financial and Digital Investments (EFIH.CA, up to 25%)*. In total, Saudi investments are expected to reach $7 billion in various areas, from renewable energy to pharmaceuticals. This agreement was criticized by Egyptian Social Democratic Party MP Freddy Elbaiady, who fears the absence of a productive dimension because it is more focused on consumption projects, which the country, according to him, does not need

On the other hand, Egypt should obtain “soon” – according to Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly – the IMF loan requested last March.

Others

Conviction after the murder of the student by Mohamed Adel

The man accused of the murder of student Nayera Ashraf , stabbed in broad daylight in front of Mansoura University last June, was sentenced to death, a sentence validated by the Grand Mufti. A nurse and two employees of the coroner’s office were sentenced to 6 months in prison for circulating on social networks a video of the young woman’s corpse in the morgue. Another young woman was killed in similar circumstances: Salma Bahgat, 22, was stabbed 17 times after rejecting the advances of a colleague in the lobby of a building in the town of Zagazig, the capital of the governorate of Sharqiya. The resemblance between the two crimes attracted the attention of the public, who expressed their concern and anger on social networks (such as the feminist page Speak Up sharing a post denouncing the two criminals) and again called for the implementation better laws to protect women. 

Churches and electrical failures

The public also expressed anger after a fire at Imbaba Church left 41 people dead on August 14. An Interior Ministry statement attributed the fire to an electrical malfunction in the air conditioning unit. Three days later, another fire broke out at the Anba Bishoy church, 273 kilometers south of Cairo. This caused no casualties but seriously damaged a large part of the building’s structure. According to the Interior Ministry, the cause of the fire was also an electrical fault. This statement sparked strong reactions within the Coptic community, particularly on social media, and further investigations were requested.

The National Dialogue

Diaa Rashwan, who heads the Journalists’ Union for a third consecutive term and President of the State Information Service – the official media and public relations apparatus of the Egyptian state – was appointed early June General Coordinator of the National Dialogue. Rashwan’s mission was to launch a consultation with the different political forces and form a board of directors composed of 19 members: representatives of all parties, public figures and experts. The names of the members of this board were released at the end of June and include: MP and member of the opposition bloc 25-30 Ahmed al-Sharqawy, Amira Saber, MP of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Gamal al-Kishky , editor-in-chief of the magazine Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, Gouda Abdel Khaleq, former minister of solidarity and member of the political bureau of the Tagamou party, Reham Bahy, professor of international relations at Cairo University, Mahmoud Alam Eddin, professor of journalism, Talaat Abdel Qawy, MP and president of the General Union of NGOs, Abdel Azeem Hammad, Mohamed Salmawy and Samir Morcos, writers, Kamal Zayed, member of the Karama party and businessman, Emad Eddin Hussein, editor-in-chief of Al-Shorouk and senator, Mohamed Fisent Farhat, director of the Center for Political and Strategic Studies of Al-Ahram and Amr Hashem Rabie, his deputy, Maya Morsi, president of the National Council of Women, Fatima al-Sayed Ahmed, member of the National Press Authority, Fatima Khafagi, coordinator of the Women’s Civil Society Network, Negad al-Borai, rights lawyer, and Hani Sarie Eddin, vice-president of the Wafd party.

The council is expected to meet for the first time in early July before the Eid al-Adha holiday to determine the names of the Dialogue’s participants, its agenda, duration and priorities.

The Secretary General of the Supreme Media Regulatory Council, Mahmoud Fawzy, was appointed President of the technical secretariat of the National Dialogue at the beginning of June, in order to assist the Dialogue board of directors with logistics.

Furthermore, the Civil Democratic Movement had initially rejected the appointment of Rashwan as general coordinator of the Dialogue, announced unilaterally by the National Training Academy, and declared that the negotiations had not resulted in a consensus regarding the appointment to this job. The Movement then announced that it accepted Rashwan’s appointment and affirmed that negotiations are still underway to appoint the Secretary General.

Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, member of the Civil Democratic Movement, deputy of the Reform and Development Party, member of the National Council for Human Rights and head of the International Dialogue Group which negotiates with security organs and the Prosecutor’s Office general the release of political prisoners, denounced his exclusion from the National Dialogue, alongside other politicians, and claimed to be banned from appearing in the media. Sadat had already criticized last month the participation of “youth organizations” affiliated with “agencies” – such as the National Training Academy – in the management of the Dialogue.

According to Diaa Rashwan, some parties affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood would like to participate in the Dialogue.

At the beginning of June, a coalition of union leaders and worker representatives from several parties published a list of conditions deemed essential for the successful conduct of the Dialogue, among them: a unified labor law, amendment of the law on unions and the end of any interference in administrative management in union affairs, the modification of the law on social insurance, the end of the policy of privatization and liquidation of public companies, the increase in social aid .

At the same time, the Presidential Amnesty Committee seems to continue its work, several detainees were released at the beginning of the month, among them the researcher and translator Kholoud Saeed, the former deputy Mohamed Mohieldin, the blogger Abdel Rahaman Tarek known as ” Mocha”, accountant Alaa Essam, activist Hussein “Al-Sabbak” Khamis. Yehia Hussein Abdel Hady, co-founder and former spokesperson of the Civil Democratic Movement imprisoned for three years, was finally released by presidential amnesty earlier this month, after he was sentenced to 4 years in prison at the end of May.

But this National Dialogue initiative is not only accompanied by the release of political prisoners, but also by new arrests. Journalist Mohamed Fawzy Mossad appeared before the State Security Prosecutor in late May after being subjected to enforced disappearance two weeks earlier. He is accused of spreading false news and joining a terrorist group, after he criticized on Facebook the Dialogue initiative and the non-pardon of all those arrested in the Coalition of Hope affair. . Mossad had already been arrested on similar charges in November 2018 before his release with precautionary measures in February 2020. Abouel Fotouh, former leader of the Strong Egypt Party and former presidential candidate as well as the former Supreme Guide of the Brotherhood Muslim Mahmoud Ezzat were both sentenced to 15 years in prison in late May, while former MP Mohamed al-Qassas was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The verdict was handed down by a special court and therefore cannot be subject to a normal appeal procedure. Arrested in February 2018 after criticizing President al-Sissi in the media, Abouel Fotouh was found guilty of financing and leading a terrorist group and of spreading false news and accused of having held secret meetings with members of the organization of the Muslim Brotherhood. He also accused the Tora prison authorities in April of mistreatment which caused a severe deterioration in his health, and he was also held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods.

 

Reconciliation with Qatar

New steps have been taken in the rapprochement between Egypt and Qatar.

At the end of June, the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani made an official visit to Cairo, a first since the diplomatic break between the two countries in 2017 which had seen their relations deteriorate since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in 2013 Like Turkey, Qatar was one of the strongest supporters of the Morsi administration, then welcomed many members of the Brotherhood in exile. The two countries have apparently agreed to no longer allow any Muslim Brotherhood activity on their territories.

The visit of the Qatari Emir was preceded by several meetings concerning investments in Egypt. In March 2022, the Qataris signed an investment agreement worth $5 billion in Egypt. Among the ongoing negotiations is also the re-authorization of the broadcast of the Al-Jazeera channel in Egypt, under numerous conditions.

This visit comes after that of Mohamed bin Salman. According to Mada Masr, the Saudi Prince would work towards rapprochement with Qatar and Turkey – and would thus push his Egyptian ally in this direction – to counter Emirati influence in the region before the visit of American President Joe Biden to the Saudi kingdom scheduled for next July, and its participation in a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council – where Egypt, Iraq and Jordan will also be represented. Talks were initiated in May 2021 between Egypt and Turkey, which had also decided to close anti-regime television programs and ordered political figures to stop their comments on Egypt on social networks.

This Saudi-Egyptian policy is accompanied by new investments from the kingdom in Egypt: 14 agreements were signed during the Prince’s visit, worth $ 7.7 billion, which would rank Saudi Arabia at the top investors in Egypt, with a total of 29 billion dollars.

 

Murder of a student and debates on violence against women
A dark affair shook the Egyptian press and social networks at the end of June. A student at Mansoura University, Nayera Ashraf, was stabbed to death and had her throat slit in front of the University by a man who harassed her and made several marriage proposals which the student refused. The family had filed a complaint against Ashraf’s stalker, documenting his death threats. No investigation had been opened. The absence of official condemnations – the University simply clarified that the murder took place outside its walls and that the assassin was immediately arrested – as well as comments placing the responsibility for his murder on the victim by his clothing sparked numerous debates on the networks. Among others, the dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies at Al-Azhar University, Mabrouk Attia, published a video on Facebook in which he explains that women must cover themselves completely if they do not want to experience the same fate as ‘Ashraf, directly referring to the fact that the young woman did not veil herself. The National Council of Women – strongly criticized for its lack of protection for victims and witnesses, particularly in the Fairmont affair during which witnesses were arrested after being encouraged to testify – filed a complaint with the Prosecutor against Attia.

Days after the murder, a Jordanian student, Iman Irsheid, was shot dead on her university campus. Her assassin had threatened to subject her to the same fate as Ashraf if she did not respond to his approaches.

Indian wheat 

Despite the Indian government’s decision in mid-May to ban wheat exports, the convoy of 61,500 tonnes of wheat planned for Egypt should still be delivered . The initial contract between the two countries provided for a sale of 115,000 tonnes; the remaining 53,500 tonnes, however, are not secured and also need to be exempted from the export ban by the Indian government.

At the beginning of April, the government announced that Egypt had wheat reserves for 2.6 months, then finally affirmed in mid-May that the reserves would be enough for 4 months. According to Mada Masr, it appears that the harvests amount to only 31% of the 6 million tonnes of wheat that had been forecast by the authorities, forecasts which were then adjusted to 5.5 million. Meanwhile, 41 farmers were released on bail of between EGP 1,000 and EGP 100,000 after being arrested for failing to sell their wheat quota to the government. The private sector is also seeking to obtain wheat, particularly from Bulgaria and Germany.

Financial help

Egypt should also receive a grant of 100 million euros from the European Commission to guarantee its food security and mitigate the effects of the Russo-Ukrainian war. The Egyptian state will in fact have to spend an additional EGP 15 billion – almost $1 billion – compared to the initial budget to guarantee wheat imports for the year 2022-2023. Gulf countries have invested $22 billion in the country in recent months. Talks are also underway with the IMF for a new loan.

New privatization plan

In mid-May, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly presented the new state privatization plan . This plan provides that over the next three years, the private sector will participate up to 65% of investments, compared to 30% currently and also guarantees a more important place for the Egyptian Competition Authority. According to Mada Masr, the State will withdraw, partially or completely, from the following areas: from the agricultural and animal production sector – with the particular exception of the wheat sector, in which the State will increase its investments, and the dairy sector; the construction sector – with the exception of social housing; the wholesale and retail trade sector; the hotel, restaurant and cafe sector; the mechanical industries sector; part of the food sector; a large part of the chemical industries; the textile sector – with the exception of cotton and wool.

The State will maintain, with a view to eventually reducing them, its investments in the following sectors: the mining and quarrying sector, the energy supply sector, the water and sanitation sector – by increasing the production of drinking water from surface sources.

Finally, the State will maintain or ultimately increase its investments in these sectors: education, transport – notably maritime transport infrastructure, railways and metros, but will withdraw from land ports and river transport; information and communication – by abandoning television and cinema production; the Suez Canal.

A “National Dialogue” for a new republic

Launch of the initiative and reactions

The annual presidential iftar brought together state officials and politicians at the end of April, including some members of the opposition such as the former Nasserist candidate for the 2014 presidential election Hamdeen Sabbahi, the journalist and former detainee Khaled Dawoud, and even the leader of the Karama Party, Kamal Abu Eita. On this occasion, President al-Sisi called for a “national dialogue” between all political forces, and to relaunch the Presidential Amnesty Committee , founded in 2017 and responsible for making recommendations regarding the release of prisoners sentenced in political affairs.

This dialogue must be coordinated by the National Training Academy , founded by President al-Sissi who notably heads the board of directors, on which the Prime Minister also sits. This Academy runs the Presidential Leadership School and organizes the Global Youth Forum.

The Academy invited Egyptians and political parties to join the National Dialogue and affirmed that a joint and impartial committee would be created, including representatives of think tanks. Once accepted by the participants, the results of the dialogue should be presented to the President.

The responses to this initiative seem for the moment still in its infancy, and vary , but certain parties and institutions have welcomed the invitation, such as the Party of Defenders of the Homeland (hamat al-watan), the Coordination of Parties of the youth and politicians (tansiqiyat shabab al-ahzab w al-siyasin), and the April 6 Movement .

Other actors showed reservations, particularly regarding the role attributed to the Academy in the initiative, or issued conditions regarding their participation in the Dialogue.

Indeed, Reform and Development Party MP Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, member of the National Council for Human Rights and head of the International Dialogue Group which acts in coordination with the Prosecutor for the release of political prisoners, released a statement on social media. He criticizes the decision to assign youth organizations – here the Academy – affiliated with “agencies” the task of organizing and managing the national dialogue.

Dozens of human rights defenders as well as politicians have signed a petition calling for measures to be taken by the authorities before the establishment of the national dialogue and identifying ten key points necessary for the establishment of a national dialogue in confidence . Among these points are the end of the arrest of activists and limitations on freedom of expression, the immediate release of all political prisoners, the unblocking of around a hundred banned websites, the improvement of living conditions in prisons, and the closure of the NGO case targeting Egyptian rights organizations. The statement also calls on the government to end pretrial detentions and the use of anti-terrorism laws against political opponents, as well as stopping military courts. The signatories call for the formation of an independent legal committee, which would include members of the government appointed by the National Council for Human Rights and experts from independent organizations to investigate cases of torture and evaluate decisions of justice rendered since July 24, 2013 in all political cases. This committee should call for retrials in cases that were tried by the State Emergency Security Council, or in any case in which a civilian was tried in a military court.

A dialogue already in danger? 

The United Media Services group, for example, banned its newspapers (notably Youm 7, al-Watan, al-Dostor, Egypt Today) and television channels (OnTV, al-Hayat, DMC, CBC, al-Nas) in mid-May from invite representatives of the Civil Democratic Movement, or to report information about the group.

This Movement, founded in December 2017 by seven opposition parties (the Reform and Development Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the al-Dostor Party, the al-Adl Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party , the al-Karama Party, the Masr El-Horreya Party, the Bread and Freedom Party) and around 150 political figures, met in early May to discuss a common strategy regarding this call presidential. Among the parties present at the meeting: the Socialist Popular Alliance, the Conservative Party, the al-Dostor Party, the National Conciliation Party (Wifak), the Socialist Party of Egypt and the Bread and Freedom Party, as well as a number of independent activists and politicians. The group highlighted five areas that it believes should be at the heart of the National Dialogue: political reform and democratic transition, economic reform and social justice, legislative and institutional reform, human rights and civil liberties, national security and national interests . In return for its participation in the Dialogue, the Movement is discussing certain modalities: the formation of a technical secretariat to coordinate the initiative – which would be independent of the Academy – but also its participation in the Dialogue agenda.

The reason for this media sidelining would be the disapproval of the security services, which own the media group, regarding a discussion held by the group on the National Dialogue during which the cession of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to the Saudi Arabia in 2016 would have been mentioned. During this meeting, political figures also reportedly criticized the role of the National Training Academy in the organization of the National Dialogue.

The Democratic Civil Movement also called on the authorities to accelerate the release of prisoners, promised since Eid, as a guarantee of the seriousness of the National Dialogue initiative. Indeed, if several dozen political prisoners were released at the end of April, notably Hossam Moanis, former campaign director of Hamdeen Sabbahi arrested in June 2019 notably for his participation in the Coalition of Hope and released a few days after the presidential iftar , or the pharmacist Ahmed Mohie, arrested in March 2019 after holding a banner in Tahrir Square calling on al Sissi to leave power, the 1000 prisoners presented on the list established by the Presidential Amnesty Committee, which would have been accepted at the beginning of May, have not yet been released. Furthermore, at the end of May, Yehia Hussein Abdel Hady , former spokesperson for the Democratic Civil Movement and co-founder of the movement arrested in January 2019, was sentenced to 4 years in prison for publishing false news so his release is subject to negotiations led by the Amnesty Committee. Tarek al-Khouly, a member of the Committee, further denied the existence of political prisoners in Egypt, saying that all prisoners are detained according to legal processes.

This call for a “National Dialogue” comes as the arrests of politicians, journalists and academics, and the conditions of detention have once again been at the heart of the news.

At the beginning of April, the news of the death of Ayman Hadhoud, economic researcher and member of the high committee of the Reform and Development Party, almost two months after his forced disappearance, which occurred in early February, by the National Security Agency, shook social networks. His family learned the news of his death almost a month after the death, which occurred in the Abbasseya psychiatric hospital where he was allegedly taken informally. Officially arrested for attempted burglary, the circumstances of Hadhoud’s death are unclear: the Prosecutor claims that the latter died of chronic heart disease and that he suffered from schizophrenic symptoms, while an independent forensic expert , commissioned by Amnesty International- suggests the presence of signs of torture and ill-treatment, in particular burns, based on an analysis of photos of the researcher’s body, correlated by testimonies.

An MP from the Reform and Development Party, Rawiya Mokhtar, requested the establishment of a commission of inquiry in Parliament and also submitted a request for information to the Minister of Health regarding the responsibility of the hospital Abbasseya and doctors responsible for Hadhoud’s death.

The researcher’s family launched a lawsuit and demanded compensation. The legal team in charge of the case also requested access to the various surveillance videos on which the victim appears – notably those from the Qasr el Nil police station where he was taken after being arrested, but also those from the hospital where he died. The Prosecutor’s Office has so far refused, then failed, to give him access to the file, particularly the medico-legal one , even though it accepted the civil complaint filed by the family. She also requested that the two cases concerning Hadhoud, which are the burglary charge which led to his arrest and the investigation into his death, be merged.

In late April, two journalists , Safaa al-Korbagy and Hala Fahmy , appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecutor after being kidnapped. Safaa al-Korbagy was fired three months earlier after posting videos on his Facebook page of his participation in last January’s protest by state media workers against poor working conditions at the National Broadcasting Authority in Maspero. Hala Fahmy had called for increased demonstrations and a sit-in at the headquarters of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union.

In mid-May, Hala Fahmy began a hunger strike . Many other political prisoners have also undertaken hunger strikes in recent months to denounce their conditions of detention and attacks suffered within the prison. Among them are Abdel Rahman “Mocha” Tarek, who was hospitalized at the end of April after 73 days of strike, Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh , Ahmed Douma , Ahmed Samir Tantawi and Alaa Abd El Fattah. The latter was finally transferred to the new Wadi al-Natroun prison complex in mid-May, after his family requested that he be transferred to a prison hospital given his deteriorating health. Alaa obtained British citizenship in April and sought legal support from British authorities.

Il faut sauver le blé

Le prix du pain non-subventionné a bondit de 50% immédiatement après l’invasion Russe en Ukraine, suite à l’interruption des importations de blé en provenance des deux pays en conflit. Cette augmentation brutale a conduit le gouvernement égyptien à fixer les prix du pain pour la première fois en 30 ans, pour une période de 3 mois. Cependant, les boulangeries achetant le blé au prix du marché, elles risquent de vendre à perte, la tonne de blé étant passée de 8 000 EGP à 12 000 EGP depuis le début du conflit. Des amendes oscillant entre 10 000 EGP et 5 millions EGP sont prévues pour ceux qui ne respecteraient pas les prix. Le prix de la miche de pain baladi de 45 grammes est ainsi arrêté à 0.50 EGP, celui de la miche de 65 grammes à 0.75 EGP.

L’augmentation du prix du pain subventionné, aujourd’hui à 5 piastres la miche, jusqu’à 5 miches par jour pour les bénéficiaires, et la réduction du nombre de bénéficiaires, prévue en juin prochain, semble temporairement repoussé à cause de la conjoncture. Les discours officiels cherchent au contraire à rassurer la population sur les réserves de grains disponibles malgré la guerre, et sur la quête de nouveaux fournisseurs. En plus d’avoir interdit les exportations de blé et de tout type de farine – mais aussi d’huile, de pâtes de haricots et de lentilles afin de garantir leur disponibilité pendant le Ramadan, l’Égypte est en discussions avec États-Unis, la France, l’Inde et l’Argentine pour assurer de nouvelles importations de blé. Le gouvernement cherche également à augmenter l’achat local de blé, en obligeant les agriculteurs à vendre à l’État 60% de leur récole.  les prix établis par le gouvernement s’élevaient cette année à 820 EGP par ardeb contre 800 EGP l’année passée, tarif augmenté ces dernières semaines de 65 EGP résultant à un total de 5 800 EGP par tonne de blé – prix bien inférieur au marché mondial – tandis que les agriculteurs réclament 1 000 EGP par ardeb. Les agriculteurs ne sont également pas autorisés à vendre le reste de leur production sans accord préalable du ministère de l’approvisionnement et du commerce intérieur. Ceux qui n’appliquent pas la décision se verront privés de la distribution des engrais subventionnés ainsi que tout autre type de soutien de la part de la Banque agricole d’Égypte. Ceux qui vendent leur récolte au secteur privé s’exposent à des peines de prison allant de 1 à 5 ans et à des amendes allant de 300 à 1 000 EGP, ainsi qu’à la confiscation de leur récolte. Le gouvernement vise ainsi à collecter 6 millions de tonnes de blé, contre 3.5 millions l’année dernière – réunies à l’époque grâce à une offre de prix supérieure à celle du marché mondial.  Cependant, alors que les chiffres officiels font état d’une production locale allant jusqu’à 10 millions de tonnes par an, il semblerait que celle-ci s’élève en réalité à 7 millions, notamment parce que certains agriculteurs prétendraient cultiver des terrains plus larges afin de bénéficier de subventions et d’engrais, ou alors à cause de terres peu fertiles et de maladies du blé qui réduisent la productivité. Alors que le prix proposé par le gouvernement est inférieur au prix du marché, de nombreux agriculteurs risquent d’éviter de vendre leur blé aux autorités malgré les pénalités prévues, ou d’arrêter la culture du blé l’année prochaine.

 

Inflation

En attendant, le taux d’inflation annuel bat son record depuis juin 2019, atteignant 8.8% en février contre 7.3% en février 2021, et les prix des produits alimentaires s’enflamment depuis la mi-mars d’après une étude du CAPMAS. Cependant, d’après Sharif Fayed, Professeur d’économie agricole interrogé par Mada Masr, cette hausse des prix seraient liées à des conditions locales – culture saisonnière, instabilité des récoltes et non-réglementation des chaines d’approvisionnements – l’impact de la guerre russo-ukrainienne étant encore à venir… Les prix des cylindres de gaz ménagers et commerciaux ont également augmenté de 5 et 10 EGP, étant désormais à hauteur de 75 et 150 EG.

 

Fuite des capitaux, mesures monétaires, FMI

Dès le premier jour de l’invasion russe en Ukraine, de nombreux investisseurs étrangers ont vendu leurs bons du Trésor en livres égyptiennes, privilégiant des marchés estimés plus sûrs et privant ainsi l’Égypte de liquidité en dollars. 3 milliards de dollars auraient ainsi quitté l’Égypte dès la première semaine de l’invasion.

Afin de rendre le marché égyptien plus attractif,  la Banque centrale égyptienne a décidé mi-mars de faire flotter la livre égyptienne, qui s’était stabilisée autour de 15,7 EGP pour 1 dollar américain après la première libéralisation du taux de change en 2016. La livre a été ainsi dévaluée de 14%, allant jusqu’à atteindre un taux de 18.23 pour 1 dollar américain. La Banque centrale a également augmenté les taux d’intérêts de 1%. Malgré ces mesures, la pression financière a tout de même conduit l’Égypte à demander un soutien supplémentaire au FMI à la fin du mois de mars, qui serait éventuellement accompagné d’une nouvelle aide financière. Le Ministre des finances Mohamed Maait a assuré que cette aide ne serait pas un poids supplémentaire pour les citoyens – faisant allusion au cycle de réformes du système de subvention en cours, supporté par le FMI.

 

Investissements du Golfe

L’Égypte est également allée regarder du côté de ses partenaires dans le Golfe. Fin mars, l’Arabie Saoudite a déposé 5 milliards de dollars à la Banque centrale égyptienne. Les deux pays ont également signé un accord pour faciliter les investissements saoudiens en Égypte via le Fond public d’investissement saoudien, le Premier ministre Madbouly espérant attirer prochainement 10 milliards de dollars vers le Fond souverain égyptien. La veille, le Qatar s’était également engagé à investir également 5 milliards de dollars en Égypte. Deux milliards de dollars d’investissements émiratis dans des entreprises publiques égyptiennes de fertilisants et de cargo- Abu Qir Fertilizers, Misr Fertilizers, and Alexandria Container & Cargo Handling – ont également été conclus fin mars. Les Ports d’Abu Dhabi sont également en négociation avec le Groupe Égyptien pour les terminaux polyvalents afin que les Émirats équipent et exploitent le terminal du Port de Safaga pour les quinze prochaines années contre 5% des revenus.

The consequences of the war in Ukraine

Tourists and nationals stranded

Concerns over the war in Ukraine have featured prominently in Egyptian news this month. Around 16,000 Ukrainian tourists are believed to be stranded in Egypt since the start of the Russian attack on their country, particularly in the Red Sea tourist spots – Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam. The Egyptian Tourism Ministry called on the Egyptian Hotel Association to encourage hotels and resorts to extend the stay of Ukrainian, but also Russian tourists, and to provide them with all necessary services free of charge until they are able to go back home. According to Mada Masr, daily losses could amount to between EGP 50,000 and EGP 100,000 per day per hotel following this decision. Discussions for a government contribution are underway, as the Egyptian tourism sector slowly restarts after two years of pandemic – the sector’s revenues are said to have fallen by 70% in 2020. Ukrainian tourists represent 3% of all annual tourists in Egypt, and 2.5% of the turnover of the tourism sector. While flights with Russia have just been restored, the Egyptian government had anticipated the arrival of between 300,000 and 400,000 tourists per month, a figure which risks being undermined by recent events.

Regarding Egyptian nationals in Ukraine, there does not appear to be a general evacuation plan. 15 students who crossed into Romania at the start of the attack managed to return to Egypt at the beginning of March. After several days of uncertainty , it appears that Egyptian authorities have finally put an evacuation plan in place and are sending repatriation flights to neighboring countries. According to the Minister of Immigration, 1,200 Egyptian students are already in Poland, while 400 others are in the process of leaving Kiev. At the start of the attack, the Egyptian embassy called on its nationals to stay put, particularly those residing in regions close to the Russian border. Those in the western regions of Ukraine had been informed that they could leave via Poland, Romania or Slovakia. Students make up more than half of Egyptian nationals living in Ukraine, or around 4,000 out of 6,000 individuals.

Resources: between necessity and opportunities

Wheat supply is also at the heart of concerns related to the Ukraine issue, with Russia and Ukraine being the main suppliers of wheat to Egypt, the largest wheat importer in the world. 18 million tonnes of cereals were consumed in Egypt last year, of which 13.2 million were imported, and 5 million produced locally. 80% of imports come from Russia and Ukraine.

Despite the conflict, Egyptian authorities affirmed in early March that all imports of Russian and Ukrainian origin would be delivered . However, wheat shipments of 60,000 tonnes destined for Egypt are reportedly blocked in the port of Odessa because of the Russian strikes. In addition, the two major shipping companies MSC and Maersk suspended the transport of containers to or from Russian ports at the end of February. However, a cargo was able to leave the Ukrainian port Yuzhny towards Alexandria. The Egyptian government also affirms that Egypt has sufficient  wheat stocks for the next 9 months and recalls that the local wheat harvest will begin in April. In this security context, the authorities have announced that they are seeking to diversify importing countries, but import prices risk being higher. This conflict could add millions or even billions to Egypt’s national debt, while wheat prices have seen a global increase in 2021, reportedly reaching 27%. In the context of reduction and transformation of the subsidy system, in which bread subsidized at 5 piastre per loaf instead of 65 is consumed by nearly 70% of the population, the question of the price of bread is a sensitive subject .

But all is not to be lost in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. European countries are also seeking to diversify their suppliers of raw materials, particularly natural gas, while the conflict and sanctions taken against Russia risk causing the partial interruption of Russian natural gas supplies, which supplies 40% of European consumption. Negotiations are underway with Egypt and five other countries (United States, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Nigeria and South Korea) in this regard. Discussions on the subject also took place in mid-February, a few days before the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, during the joint summit between the European Union and the African Union in which President al-Sissi participated .

According to Mada Masr, given that Egyptian production of natural gas – particularly from the Zohr extraction field – is struggling to meet local consumption, it is unlikely that Egypt will be able to export its gas. It seems rather that it is Israel which will export gas, transiting through Egypt. Indeed, since 2020, Israel has started exporting gas to Egypt and Jordan. In Egypt, the gas is liquefied and then re-exported. It could be this technique that would be used to re-export gas to Europe. The Israeli Minister of Energy also announced in mid-February that her country planned to increase its gas exports to Egypt by 50% from the end of February.

Furthermore, an agreement between Lebanon’s neighboring countries was put in place to meet the country’s energy needs, financed by the World Bank. Egypt announced that it would start exporting gas to Lebanon, which would transit in particular through Syria, by the end of February or mid-March at the latest. It seems that this gas is in reality – and unofficially – of Israeli origin.

An impossible diplomatic choice?

Diplomatically, Egypt is caught in a vise given its close ties, both economic and military, with Russia, the European Union, and the United States.

Egypt cannot indeed quarrel with its Western allies, particularly in the context of the current economic reforms carried out under the aegis of the IMF , but also because the United States is ready to diplomatically support the Egyptian position in the conflict which pits it against Ethiopia around the GERD, which also began to produce electricity in February. On the other hand, Egypt is close to Russia on many regional issues – notably the Libyan issue – and shares economic interests with it. A nuclear power plant is being built by the Russian company Rosatom in Dabaa, and as mentioned above, many Russian tourists were expected in Egypt in the coming months.

European embassies in Egypt have expressed dissatisfaction with the Arab League declaration published at the end of February which called for diplomacy between the conflicting parties, to avoid escalation and to consider the humanitarian situation. A statement from the ambassadors of the G7 countries stationed in Cairo called on Egypt to take a tougher stance towards Russia. Egypt finally sided with its Western allies by voting in favor of the resolution presented to the United Nations General Assembly, demanding the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and deploring “the Russian ‘aggression’. The United Arab Emirates and China, which had abstained a week earlier from voting on the resolution presented by the United Nations Security Council aimed at ending the conflict, also ultimately sided with the West by voting as well for this resolution.

Minimum wages in the public sector

In mid-February, the Council of Ministers approved the proposal of the Ministry of Public Sector and Enterprise to set a minimum salary for public sector employees. From next July, 15% of public sector employees – in total around 760,000 people spread across 118 companies – will be entitled to the same minimum wage as public administration employees, which will be increased from next July by 300 EGP and will thus be 2700 EGP per month. This decision would apply to a small number of employees since the majority earn only this salary, and will not impact the annual bonuses employees already receive.

The Council of Ministers also approved the increase in the rate of bonuses allocated to civil servants, as well as the establishment of a special bonus for primary and secondary school teachers and an allocation of EGP 1.8 billion to employ 30,000 new teachers per year for five years five in order to respond to the shortage of teaching staff. The salaries of professors at the university will also be increased , and an allocation of EGP 1 billion will be made to employ more professors on full-time contracts. Finally, an allocation of EGP 1.8 billion was also decided in order to recruit 30,000 doctors and nurses, as well as increasing the income of intern doctors.

Violence against women  

As a report claims that violent crimes against women in Egypt increased in 2021, the video of the assault of a young woman by her future husband on their wedding day has ignited the powder on the networks social.

The annual report on gender-based violence established by the Edraak Foundation for Development and Equality (EFDE), based on statements from the public prosecutor’s office, reports published in newspapers and the media, recorded 813 violent crimes against women in 2021, compared to 415 in 2020, and 296 murders of women and girls – figures which are probably higher in reality. In the process, a deputy from the Egyptian Freedom Party, Amal Salamah, proposed toughening penalties in cases of domestic violence and faced condemnation from the most conservatives, who affirm that the violence of a man towards his wife is permitted by Sharia law.

Media strike

For four days in early January, thousands of state media workers demonstrated in the Maspero building, the headquarters of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, to protest against working conditions, poor salaries and years of delay in paying bonuses. New measures governing working hours, now fixed whereas they were more flexible before, are at the origin of the anger of employees. For years, they have in fact compensated for low salaries with a second job, thanks to flexible hours.

After the Council of Ministers approved the payment of EGP 60 million to finance salary arrears, protests resumed in mid-January, demanding that the National Broadcasting Authority pay in full years of salaries, late bonuses, pensions and other financial rights. The National Broadcasting Authority has so far agreed to pay overdue bonuses for 2017 and 2018, and for one month of 2019, as well as pay end-of-service bonuses worth around 150 months of salaries to those who stopped working at Maspero since the beginning of 2019, in addition to severance pay for those who retired in November and December 2018 and who have not yet received their due. While the Authority has agreed to pay between EGP 800 and EGP 1,000 to female employees, approximately EGP 14,000 per person remains to be paid to cover all late bonuses and incentive payments.

 

Youth and “decent life”

In mid-January, the 4th edition of the World Youth Forum took place in Sharm el Sheikh , a global youth forum launched at the initiative of President al-Sissi. The stated objective of the Forum is to promote dialogue and discuss issues related to development. This year, themes such as post-covid life, climate change, social security, entrepreneurship, human rights, technology and 5G, digital transformation, distance learning, the environment and the future of energy were discussed, and a simulation of the United Nations Human Rights Council was tested. President al-Sisi announced during a Forum session that the government had launched a social protection program similar to the “Decent Life” initiative, or “Hayah Karima”. The latter is a social protection program which was set up in 2019, following the annual conference of the World Youth Forum, to fight poverty in rural areas, and whose achievements were also exposed the day before the The opening of the Forum 2022. The new program was not detailed, but it would cost between EGP 600 and 700 billion, and also aims to reduce poverty which has increased, especially since the Coronavirus pandemic.

At the end of January, on the occasion of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Police Day, al-Sissi had the opportunity to speak about the sacrifice of police officers for the state, assuring that the martyrdom of police heroes paved the way for the “demanded by Egyptians during the January 25 revolution, thus linking the revolution to the government program “Hayah Karima”. The tone of this speech differs from the President’s remarks last September at the launch of the Human Rights Strategy , during which he described the revolution as a “death certificate for the Egyptian state.”

 

Year of civil society?

While on the occasion of the Youth Forum the President recalled that the year 2022 was that of “  the year of civil society  ” and encouraged the establishment of a platform for discussion between the Egyptian government and civil organizations and international organizations at the end of the Forum, the Arab Network for Information on Human Rights announced the suspension of its activities, after 18 years of work. According to Mada Masr, network Director Gamal Eid was informed unofficially by employees of the Ministry of Solidarity that the organization would not be registered as an NGO – following the new NGO regulations published in January 2021 – unless that it does not change its name and stop dealing with human rights in prison and issues such as freedom of expression. Furthermore, Gamal Eid is still banned from traveling and his assets are still frozen, following his involvement in  the “NGO affair  ”. If 100 NGOs were finally removed from the case last year, ANHRI has still not been cleared .

Furthermore, Saeed Abdel Hafez, member of the new National Council for Human Rights, affirmed that civil society must work in collaboration with the State and play a mediation role between the latter and citizens, estimating that 90% applications for registration of associations have been approved according to the new regulations, and castigating the few “10 associations” which wish to work independently.

 

New liberations

The founder of the Boycott Divestment Sanction (BDS) movement in Egypt, Ramy Shaath was finally released after spending 2 years in pre-trial detention. He was nevertheless forced to renounce his Egyptian nationality in order to be released. After being deported to Amman, he finally landed in Paris. Shaath had been accused of belonging to a terrorist group and disseminating false information, without ever having been officially charged. According to Shaath, his arrest is linked, among other things, to his opposition to the “Deal of the Century”, Donald Trump’s plan aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In reaction to the interviews given by Ramy Shaath in the media since his release and to his testimony before the European Parliament, the Ministry of the Interior reacted on social networks, describing the activist as an agitator, and considering that he had received all necessary visits and medical care during his time in detention.

Coptic rights activist Ramy Kamel, a founding member of the Maspero Youth Union, was also released in January, after spending more than two years in pre-trial detention. Also accused of belonging to a terrorist group and spreading false news, he reportedly received a warning from authorities after posting images of sectarian violence in southern Egypt.

 

Scandals

At the beginning of January, five teachers from Mansoura were brought before the administrative prosecutor’s office for having “danced on board a Nile boat” during a teachers’ union trip. Complaints were filed after a video was released showing one of the teachers dancing. The ministerial committee that investigated the matter called the incident “a dishonorable behavior that insults the prestige of the teacher and the educational process.” A debate around the limitation between private and public life emerged on social networks, with some believing that the professors were not at fault because they were not on “duty”.

The affair finally took another turn, after the Ministry of Education Tarek Shawky personally intervened with the teacher who was the main target of the affair to guarantee her a new job in a school near her home. . The initial investigation was in fact carried out by the director of education of the governorate of Daqahlia.

The ink has also been spilled around the broadcast of the Arabic version on Netflix of the Italian film “Perfect Strangers”, in which plays, among others, the Egyptian actress Mona Zaki. MP Mustafa Bakry submitted a statement to Parliament Speaker Hanafy el-Gebaly regarding the moral aspect of the film. The MP, who is working on a bill to criminalize homosexuality, accused the film of promoting homosexuality and infidelity. A lawyer also said he wanted to file a complaint against the Ministry of Culture to prevent the film from being broadcast. Nevertheless, the Actors Union defended creative freedom as well as actress Mona Zaki. The Union also filed a complaint with the Prosecutor against YouTuber Ahmed Wagih who allegedly insulted several artists in a video about the film.

Health

This month, the Egyptian government began injecting booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for people who received their second dose 6 months or more ago. According to the Ministry of Health, 400,000 people were contacted by SMS to make an appointment. If people suffering from chronic illnesses, the elderly and medical personnel are officially priority, non-vulnerable people in reality already have access to the booster and can come to vaccination centers without having received an official SMS. According to official information, nearly 50 million people, or half of the population, have now received at least one dose of vaccine.

Concerning the Omicron variant, travelers who had been in contact with three people from South Africa who tested positive for the variant ultimately tested negative . Tests are being conducted at Cairo airport for all people arriving from countries where the variant has been detected Egyptians who receive positive tests are isolated in fever hospitals, while foreigners are sent back to the country they came from.

Furthermore, in mid-December the Prime Minister announced new measures to prevent the spread of the virus: obligation to wear a mask in schools, universities, mosques, banks, theaters and transport; ban on the organization of weddings, funerals, birthdays or other celebrations in closed places – while funeral prayers in certain large mosques had been re-authorized at the beginning of the month for the first time since the start of the pandemic by the Committee supreme authority for the management of epidemics and pandemics, established under the new “  pandemic law  ” –; ban on shisha in restaurants, cafes and hotels. Flights to South Africa were finally reinstated on December 16, after being suspended for two weeks.

Meanwhile, accusations of corruption are shaking the Ministry of Health: four officials were referred to a criminal court following an investigation opened two months ago. The opening of this investigation coincided with the departure on sick leave of the Minister of Health Hala Zayed following a heart attack, a synchrony which had fueled rumors about the minister’s involvement in these corruption cases. If the latter has not however been indicted, one of the four accused – whose identities have not yet been revealed – would be one of her main assistants. One of the defendants is accused of having requested a bribe of 5 million EGP from the owners of a private hospital in exchange for which he allegedly used his influence to prevent the closure of the hospital for lack of license. Two other defendants were charged with “corruption mediation,” while the fourth was accused of “preparing a false report” about the hospital.

According to Mada Masr, Hala Zayed’s official departure from his post as minister should be announced soon. She would be replaced by the current interim health minister, Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, and a new minister of higher education is expected to be appointed.

Furthermore, in mid-December, Egypt hosted the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Sharm el-Sheikh.

 

Justice

The activist Alaa Abd El Fattah was finally sentenced to 5 years in prison, while his lawyer Mohamed Baqer and the blogger Mohamed Ibrahim alias Oxygen were sentenced to 4 years in prison following their trial, the verdict of which was delivered on December 20. Abd El Fattah, Ibrahim and Baqer were brought before a special court last October, a few days before President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi announced the end of the state of emergency in force since 2017. The trial having taken place before a State of Emergency Security Offenses Court, the verdict cannot therefore be the subject of any appeal. The sentences were handed down after only three trial sessions, while defense lawyers did not have access to the files or the opportunity to present a defense. The verdict must now be ratified by the President of the Republic to be finalized; the only possible recourse would be to submit a grievance to the military leader – the President of the Republic.

It is not yet clear whether the two years already spent in pre-trial detention since their arrests in September 2019 will be deducted from their sentences, in particular because the investigation which was ultimately referred to the courts is different from the one for which they were were arrested the first time. However, according to Mohamed Baqer’s lawyer, Ahmed Ragheb, these two years should be counted since the defendants were accused of the same thing in both investigations, in particular of spreading false news. The prosecution should clarify this information soon. Shortly before the verdict, Germany’s Federal Foreign Ministry called for the release of the three defendants and a fair trial, saying the outcome of the trial would be an indicator of the human rights situation in Egypt. . The Egyptian authorities reacted by denouncing interference in the country’s internal affairs. The US State Department also expressed its “dissatisfaction” with the verdict, a comment deemed inappropriate by Egyptian Foreign Affairs spokesman Ahmed Hafez. On December 1 , a group of United Nations experts called for the immediate release of the three accused.

Researcher Patrick Zaki, a student at the University of Bologna and specialist in gender issues who was arrested on February 7, 2020, was finally released at the beginning of December, after spending 22 months in pre-trial detention, accused of spreading false news. However, the latter is not acquitted , and he will have to appear before the Emergency Court of State Security, an exceptional court, for the continuation of his trial next February. He would also be prohibited from leaving Egyptian territory.

Ola al-Qaradawi, the daughter of Islamist theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, placed on the terrorist list and currently in exile, was also released on December 12 after spending 4 years in prison.

More than 11 years after the disappearance of Khaled Saïd in June 2010, beaten to death by police officers in Alexandria and whose assassination had been a detonator of the January 25 revolution, a court ordered two police officers and the ministry from the inside to pay Said’s heirs one million EGP in compensation for the moral and material damage suffered, according to the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) which brought the case to court. An officer and a police sergeant were sentenced to seven years in prison for the crime, then to ten years in March 2014 after appealing the initial verdict. The compensation claim filed by ECESR in March 2018, on behalf of the victim’s sister and mother – who has since died – originally demanded compensation of EGP 2 million. ECESR plans to file an appeal to obtain the full amount required.

Culture

A presidential decree revealed the composition of the board of directors of the future Grand Egyptian Museum. The President of the Republic will head the council, on which the ministers of finance, culture and antiquities will sit. Hosni Mubarak’s former culture minister, Farouk Hosni, tried after the 2011 revolution for corruption before being acquitted, will also be among the council members, as well as Zahi Hawas, former minister of antiquities under Mubarak and also tried for similar crimes before being acquitted . Other members include National Bank of Egypt director Hisham Okasha, former central bank governor Farouk al-Oqda, businessman Mohamed Lotfy Mansour and Sherif Amer, TV channel presenter. Saudi-owned television MBC Masr. The council also includes non-Egyptian members, such as Saudi Prince Ben Salman, the director of the Metropolitan Museum Ben Elliot and the secretary general of the World Tourism Organization.

Furthermore, an Egyptian delegation recovered this month in Spain 36 archaeological pieces , which had been smuggled into the country in 2014. During his trip to Cairo in December, the Israeli foreign minister also returned to the Egypt dozens of objects that had been smuggled into Israel. France also returned around a hundred objects to Egypt last June.

End of state of emergency 

At the end of October, President al-Sisi announced that the state of emergency would not be renewed, ensuring that Egypt had become an “oasis of security and stability in the region”. Since it was declared across the country in April 2017 after a double attack on Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria, the state of emergency had been continuously renewed every three months. This measure can be read as a move towards the United States, which has conditioned $130 million in military aid on improvements in human rights in Egypt. However, special measures will still be implemented in several areas of Sinai, where the state of emergency has been in place since October 2014.

Under the state of emergency, security services have been granted extensive powers. The 1958 State of Emergency Law grants security forces broad powers, including to detain suspects and dissidents, monitor private communications, prohibit gatherings and evacuate areas, and seize property.

The end of the state of emergency should end the competence of the Supreme State Security Prosecutor’s Office to consider cases of crimes that violate the provisions of the emergency law, and transfer this competence to ordinary prosecutors . However, this does not affect the competences and powers of the Supreme State Security Prosecutor’s Office which are granted to it by other laws and decisions, in particular the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2015. The latter in fact guarantees prosecutors a broad power to detain suspects without judicial oversight and order extensive and potentially indefinite surveillance of terrorism suspects without a court order. However, new offenses that would have previously been prosecuted by the state of emergency security courts will no longer be brought before the special courts, whose sentences cannot be appealed. The latter will, however, continue to process the cases which they have already received before the end of the state of emergency and to render decisions on them, in particular the ongoing trials of numerous political prisoners such as Patrick Zaki, Alaa Abd El Fattah, Ramy Shaath.

Several other measures provided for by the state of emergency, such as restrictions on freedom of assembly or demonstration, censorship of newspapers, publications and media, forced evacuations or curfews in certain areas will remain in force, in part. thanks to the arsenal of anti-terrorism laws passed in 2015, preceded by the law on demonstrations adopted in 2013 and approved in 2015 and followed by constitutional amendments in 2019 which modified the terms of appointment of judges of the highest authorities of the country . This legislative apparatus was strengthened on November 1 by a series of amendments voted by Parliament which give military courts permanent jurisdiction to judge civilians, particularly those violating the ban on demonstrations. Likewise, research that is carried out on the army without prior agreement from the Ministry of Defense will be punishable by 6 months to 5 years in prison and fines amounting to between EGP 100,000 and EGP 1 million.

Trial and new prison

Alaa Abdel Fattah, face of the revolution in 2011, has been imprisoned for two years. Before this latest incarceration, this 39-year-old activist had already spent more than five years behind bars. This time, he is accused of spreading false information for a tweet about a prisoner who died of torture in custody. The activist’s trial began on October 18 before a State Security emergency criminal court. He appeared alongside lawyer Mohamed el Baqer and blogger Mohamed Oxygen. The verdict should be pronounced on December 20. According to one of his lawyers, Alaa Abdel Fattah faces up to eight years in prison. Many human rights organizations continue to denounce this trial as well as his conditions of detention.

At the end of October, the Ministry of the Interior posted a video clip online unveiling a new prison complex, the “Wadi al-Natrun Correctional and Rehabilitation Center”. Inmates from 12 prisons are expected to be transferred to the new complex, including those from Tora Prison in Cairo, and prisons in Alexandria, Tanta, Mansoura, Beheira, Damanhour and Minia, among others. The publicity of this new prison comes after widespread criticism of the conditions of detainees’ imprisonment and as the authorities strive to show a new face on the issue of human rights.

Turmoil in schools

             The Ministry of Education announced a ban on filming in schools, after photos and videos of overcrowded classes made the rounds in the media and social networks. Blaming the situation on the non-payment of school fees by parents, the Minister of Education Tarek Shawki tried to condition the delivery of school textbooks on the payment of 50% of school fees (between 300 and 500 EGP per year in public schools). The minister partially reversed course, notably following the reactions of several deputies condemning the decision, by announcing the halving of minimum tuition fees.

The number of teachers fell during the last fiscal year, both in public schools and in those managed by Al Azhar, according to data published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). While the population of schoolchildren increases, retiring teachers are not being replaced, with new permanent contracts frozen for 17 years, replaced by different types of temporary contracts. These temporary hiring measures were even suspended last year. 36,000 teachers were then recruited through a “competition” system, but the Ministry of Education ultimately terminated all contracts after just one semester. Public schools are short of around 259,000 teachers according to data from the end of 2020. A new attempt is being implemented this year: teachers will work on a voluntary basis for a rate of EGP 20 per class, with a maximum number of 24 classes per week for a maximum of 11 months. All public sector bodies are currently prohibited from hiring staff, in order to rationalize public spending strongly affected by the Coronavirus epidemic.

Tastes and colors…

The artistic and cultural scene was once again the site of controversy in October. It is in particular Feathers, a film by Omar el Zohairy, which has caused a lot of ink to flow in the Egyptian press. The first Egyptian feature film to win the Critics’ Week prize and the International Federation of Cinematographic Press prize at Cannes, however, this is not what caught the media’s attention. For its detractors, the film delivers a negative and distorted image of Egypt. In question, its scenario, both social and absurd, which depicts the daily life of a poor family, led by a woman whose husband has been changed… into a chicken.

As for leaving feathers… It’s a diverted religious reference that has shaken up the musical scene. On the occasion of a giant concert in front of more than 25,000 fans marking the return of rapper Marwan Pablo on October 1 ,  the humor of Palestinian rapper Shab Jdeed, also present on stage, was not to the taste of all. The artist from Jerusalem had fun modifying a Muslim song. The annoyance of certain spectators expressed on social networks quickly turned into controversy. It was enough for the musicians’ union to ban Marwan Pablo from performing in public.

But let’s remember that art is a question of perception and that a work can sometimes remain misunderstood, like that of Aidan Meller. This British visual artist has created an artist robot with an ultra-realistic female face. Named Ai-Da, this creature was held for ten days in customs, released at the last minute to participate in the Forever is Now exhibition on the Giza plateau, organized by Art d’Espagne. Due to cameras placed in the art doll’s eyes, airport authorities suspected her of espionage .

Covid-19 

The end of November is marked by a return of health concerns linked to the appearance of a new variant of Covid-19, “Omicron”, the existence of which was reported by South Africa. Belgium also announced that its patient zero would have been contaminated in Egypt. The interim Minister of Health, Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghaffar – who replaces Minister Hala Zayed currently on sick leave – however denied the existence of the variant on Egyptian soil. Canada has announced the interruption of its flights with Egypt, Switzerland has announced a mandatory ten-day quarantine for travelers from Egypt, while Egypt, as well as many countries, has interrupted its flights with South Africa. Egypt has also restricted the entry of travelers from 6 other countries having reported the presence of the variant on their soil: Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Testing must be carried out for travelers from these countries transiting through Egypt. All passengers who test positive will have to return to the country they came from. Travelers from these countries wishing to enter Egypt will be turned away if they test positive, and those who test negative will be required to self-isolate for a week before taking another PCR test.

Furthermore, a new “pandemic” law was adopted in mid-November. This law will guarantee extensive powers to authorities in pandemic or epidemic situations. Article 5 of the law provides in particular to punish “any person who intentionally disseminates, publishes or promotes false or tendentious news, statements or rumors linked to the epidemic situation if they are likely to disturb public peace, to sow panic among citizens or harm the public interest, to imprisonment for one year and/or a fine of EGP 10,000.” If MPs voted for an amendment to exclude journalists from this article, researchers, medical workers, and any other social media users will not be spared. Some of the articles of the law were directly taken from amendments that were made to the law on the state of emergency – lifted since last month – in May 2020, at the start of the pandemic. Thus, in the event of a pandemic, 25 exceptional measures may be imposed, such as the suspension of work and education or the postponement of certain payments (in particular electricity bills, or the payment of tax in several installments). Under this law, the Prime Minister can notably set treatment prices for private hospitals – the high prices of which sparked numerous debates during the first wave of Covid-19.

92% of public personnel are now vaccinated in Egypt. Those who are not can no longer go to their workplace since mid-November, unless they provide a weekly PCR test. This measure will be extended to anyone wishing to go to a public administration building from December 1 .

Vaccination is now open to high school students , while people at risk can now receive a third dose. The Ministry of Health plans to start vaccinating children aged 11 to 15 with the Pfizer vaccine. In addition,   COVID-19 vaccination centers have been set up in Cairo metro stations. The first was established in the Sadat station. In total, 20 vaccination units are planned in 15 stations. The operation began in  mid-November .

 

Trial Prison sentences
were handed down by a state of emergency security court in mid-November against several members of the “Coalition of Hope”, found guilty of “disseminating false news in the country and abroad. Former MP Zyad Elelaimy received five years in prison, while journalist Hisham Fouad and Hossam Moanis, the campaign manager of former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, were sentenced to four years in prison. They may also still be convicted for the original case for which they were arrested in June 2019, while preparing a political alliance for the 2020 parliamentary elections.

Furthermore, in mid-November a final judgment of the Court of Cassation confirmed a decision of the Cairo Criminal Court made a year ago to register the leader of the Strong Egypt Party Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, his deputy Mohamed al-Qassas and political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah on the terrorist list , after their appeals were rejected. The verdicts of the Emergency State Security Court in the trials of Alaa Abd El Fattah, lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer and blogger Mohamed “Oxygen” Ibrahim are expected to be delivered on December 20. Hossam Bahgat, executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), was fined EGP 10,000 by the Cairo Economic Appeals Court at the end of November, for defamation of the Electoral Authority Nationale in a tweet in 2020.

 

Papers
An investigation published by the news site Disclose reveals that Egypt used French intelligence to carry out airstrikes against civilians suspected of smuggling. This report, which is based on hundreds of French military documents disclosed by an anonymous source, reveals the existence of a joint military operation, called Sirli. This is supposed to provide Egypt with intelligence on militants who could pose a terrorist threat along the country’s border with Libya, thanks to French aerial surveillance. Members of the French Military Intelligence Directorate deployed there quickly noticed that the Egyptian team was using this information for other purposes, notably to target smugglers, and then reported these abuses to their superiors on several occasions, without reaction. . According to the report, French forces were involved in at least 19 airstrikes against civilians between 2016 and 2018.

In reaction to these revelations, the French Minister of Defense ordered the opening of an investigation into these allegations, while the deputies of France Insoumise announced their intention to request the opening of a commission of inquiry to The national assembly.

New “strategy” for Human Rights

In mid-September, the authorities launched a new human rights strategy during an event in the new administrative capital. The year 2022 was declared by President Abdel Fattah el Sissi as the “  year of civil society  ”.

The ambition of this strategy emerged in November 2018 with the creation of the Supreme Permanent Committee for Human Rights headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and including members from the Ministries of Defense, Interior, Justice, of Parliamentary Affairs and Social Solidarity, as well as the General Intelligence Service, the Administrative Control Authority, the national councils for women, childhood and motherhood and people with disabilities, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. State information. This committee finally met in July 2020, and a first draft of the strategy was presented the following October, the final version of which was approved at the beginning of last June. It has four main axes : civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, the rights of women, children, disabled people, young people and the elderly and the rights to education.

Several aspects are discussed, such as the state of prisons (modernization, visits from the National Council for Human Rights, advocacy against torture), justice (notably the protection of victims and witnesses), freedom of expression (right of expression and peaceful assembly, laws for the protection of journalists), coordination with civil society. In the judicial context, alternative solutions to prison are considered in the case of non-payment of debts. The strategy also encourages a review of the charges for the application of the death penalty. Part of the development angle concerns the renewal of religious discourse and the “purification” of educational programs and media promoting all forms of extremism.

Established over 5 years, this strategy emerges after numerous appeals, notably from the United Nations General Assembly, to the Egyptian authorities. Last March, 31 countries signed a declaration at the United Nations Human Rights Council condemning Egypt’s human rights record.

The United States also announced in mid-September that a little more than 10% of the military aid of 1.3 billion dollars paid annually to Egypt would be conditional on the closure of the NGO affair , begun there more than a decade ago also known as “Case 173,” and the dropping of charges against 16 people identified by the United States dropped this month due to lack of sufficient evidence. Individual restrictions against the founders of these associations such as travel bans and asset freezes have been lifted.

 

Tax “YouTubers”?

The tax authority’s e-commerce unit has called on social media content creators to open a tax case to register to pay taxes on annual income above EGP 15,000, in addition to a value added tax for those earning more than EGP 500,000 per year. Mada Masr recalls that Article 16 of the law governing value added requires natural or legal persons carrying out commercial activity, selling services or goods, to register with the authority to pay VAT if their total sales exceed LE500,000 during the year. The decision to impose this regime on bloggers and YouTubers may be surprising given that content creators do not sell goods or services. Minor “influencers” would also be subject to this regulation if their income constitutes a permanent resource. Their parents will have to complete the documents on their behalf.

 

Continuation of vaccination

As the start of the academic year approaches, scheduled for October 9, the vaccination campaign targeting educational staff and students is continuing its course. According to Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, nearly 400,000 university students were vaccinated by the end of September. They can now register on the Ministry of Health website and receive their appointment by SMS within 24 hours . An announcement from the cabinet in mid-August had indeed stipulated that all academic staff, as well as students over the age of 18, must be vaccinated before the start of the school year. This obligation also applies to tourism sector employees who work in the cities of the Red Sea and South Sinai. In September, Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar clarified that students who refuse the vaccine will have to present a weekly PCR test , while employees in the education sector will have to present two per week.

According to Education Minister Tarek Shawqi, 1.6 million ministry employees would be vaccinated – fully or partially -, which represents 65% of the ministry’s workforce. The rest of the campaign should concern high school and college students, as well as the families of students and pupils. According to the Minister of Health, 16 million Egyptians would be vaccinated , among whom 11 million would have received one dose and 5 million two doses.

2.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca Germany vaccine were recently delivered to Egypt through the COVAX system. 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca were also offered and delivered by Greece, and 546,000 doses of the same vaccine delivered by France.

 

Rebuild Libya?

With a view to competing in the presidential elections in Libya, scheduled for December 24, the general commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, resigned from his military post in September.

This electoral roadmap , established by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, however, appears to be endangered by the recent withdrawal of support from the lower house of the Libyan parliament, the House of Representatives based in Tobruk, to the unity government based in Tripoli. Last March , parliament approved its support for a government of national unity led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah until elections were held.

The latter also went to Egypt in mid-September to continue the meetings of the Joint Egyptian-Libyan Supreme Committee, which began last April, for the first time in 12 years. These meetings led to the signing of 14 memorandums of understanding and six executive contracts worth several billion dollars in various areas – transport, administrative management, industry and agriculture. According to the Libyan Minister of Economic Affairs, Salama al-Ghawil, Egyptian companies , some of which have already started work on certain projects, are expected to participate in 60 to 70% of reconstruction projects in Libya, the costs of reconstruction being estimated at 111 billion dollars over 10 years. Egypt simultaneously plays an important role in the ongoing political negotiations, with President al Sissi also receiving visits from the Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, and General Khalifa Haftar in mid-September. Cairo would also take advantage of the recent reestablishment of its relations with Turkey – at the heart of which the Libyan conflict is a central dispute – to negotiate the end of its military presence in Libya and the withdrawal of its mercenary troops.

Covid

La fin du mois d’août se solde par un regain du taux de contamination en Égypte – plus de 200 contaminations quotidiennes – ceci est présenté par les médias comme le début d’une « quatrième vague ». La Ministre de la Santé Hala Zayed a affirmé la présence du  variant Delta plus dans le pays depuis la mi-juillet, après que les autorités aient contesté sa présence à plusieurs reprises.

D’après la Ministre de la Santé, Hala Zayed, il y aurait aujourd’hui en Égypte 678 centres de vaccination ouverts au total, dont 512 seraient dédiés à tous les citoyens et 175 réservés aux voyageurs. La Ministre a annoncé que 1.3 million d’employés gouvernementaux étaient vaccinés, ce qui représenteraient plus 17% de la population égyptienne vaccinées – qui s’élèverait à 7.5 millions de personnes. L’OMS a estimé de son côté que 6.5 millions de doses avaient été distribuées à la mi-août.

La campagne de vaccination suit son court, l’État égyptien visant la vaccination de 35 millions de personnes d’ici le mois de novembre. Les efforts sont en partie concentrés sur la vaccination du personnel public, et plus particulièrement du corps enseignant, des étudiants et élèves et employés scolaires et universitaires, avant la réouverture des écoles et universités à la rentrée. Le Ministre de l’éducation a annoncé que les employés de ces institutions ne seraient pas autorisés à retourner au travail à moins d’être vaccinés ; la même mesure devrait s’appliquer au personnel du ministère de la santé dès début septembre et manifestement de tous les ministères en octobre.

Des retards dans l’administration de la seconde dose d’AstraZeneca ont été signalés début août – de nombreuses personnes ont été averties de l’annulation de leur rendez-vous, repoussé à plusieurs semaines, sans explications. Ce retard pourrait être dû à une pénurie. Mi-août, 300 000 doses du vaccin ont été envoyées par le Royaume-Uni, dans le cadre de l’accord COVAX.

D’après la Ministre Hala Zayed, 1 million de doses produites localement du vaccin Sinovac devraient être distribuées très prochainement, sur un total de 15 millions de doses déjà produites. La Ministre a affirmé que l’entreprise en charge de la production Vacsera devrait produire entre 15 et 18.5 millions de doses mensuelles.  5.2 millions de doses des vaccins Pfizer et Moderna doivent arriver des Etats-Unis le mois prochain, et 25 millions de doses du vaccin Johnson & Johnson devraient également être livrées d’ici la fin de l’année.

Depuis début août, les citoyens entièrement vaccinés peuvent désormais obtenir un certificat de vaccination accrédité pour voyager dans les 126 centres du pays dédiés à la délivrance de certificats, d’après la Ministre de la santé. Le certificat devrait faciliter les multiples procédures pour les voyageurs qui devaient auparavant obtenir un certificat de vaccination auprès du Ministère de la santé avant de le documenter au Ministère des affaires étrangères, puis de le traduire dans un bureau agréé par une ambassade étrangère. Cependant, des travailleurs égyptiens devant se rendre à l’étranger ont rencontré des difficultés, le vaccin chinois Sinopharm et son équivalent égyptien Sinovac n’étant pas reconnus par un certain nombre de pays du Golfe et d’Europe, qui exigent une dose supplémentaire de vaccin Johnson et Johnson.

 

Future augmentation du pain subventionné

Le Président de la République a annoncé début août une hausse prochaine du prix du pain subventionné, jusqu’alors vendu à 0.05 LE. Des études devraient être lancées pour établir le nouveau prix du pain. Environ deux tiers des égyptiens bénéficieraient actuellement du pain subventionné. Le président a déclaré qu’il était nécessaire de transformer le système de subventions, vieux de plusieurs décennies, conformément aux politiques financières de l’État. Le programme de réforme des subventions a été entamé en 2016, concomitamment au prêt de 12 milliards de dollars accordé par le FMI. Le Président a annoncé que les économies réalisées grâce à la réduction des subventions au pain seraient réaffectées à l’élaboration d’un nouveau programme de repas scolaires d’un montant de 8 milliards de LE, destiné à quelque 12 millions d’élèves, soit environ la moitié de la population d’âge scolaire.

La Fédération des chambres de commerce égyptiennes a proposé d’établir un nouveau prix à 0.20 LE, présenté comme un taux transitoire, et a déclaré que l’augmentation n’affecterait pas le prix du pain non-subventionné.

La division des boulangeries de la Fédération égyptienne des chambres de commerce a quant à elle présenté quatre propositions au Ministre de l’approvisionnement : une augmentation du pain à 0.25 LE, l’augmentation du poids du pain de 90 à150 grammes, que la part individuelle sur la carte de rationnement soit limitée à 3 pains au lieu de 5, que la farine utilisée pour la production ait un taux d’extraction de 76 % au lieu de 82 %.

Le ministère de l’approvisionnement avait quant à lui déclaré que le prix réel du pain était de 0.65 LE.

 

Annulation des frais de l’examen de l’internat

Fin août, le ministère de la Santé a finalement annulé sa décision d’augmenter les frais de l’examen de l’internat, qui étaient passés de 300 à 5 000 LE.  La décision avait été annoncée en mai dernier et devait s’appliquer aux nouveaux étudiants inscrits en août, ainsi qu’aux étudiants internes actuels qui passeront leur examen ce mois-ci. Le ministère avait annoncé que les médecins qui repassaient les épreuves de l’internat devaient payer 5 000 LE pour le deuxième et troisième essais et 10 000 LE pour le quatrième essai, à la place de 300 LE par examen.

Le Syndicat a déposé une plainte devant le Conseil d’État contre la ministre de la santé et le secrétaire général du Programme de l’internat égyptien, demandant que le ministère annule les frais de cet examen, au regard de la loi 14 de 2014, qui stipule que pour les médecins, l’employeur prend en charge tous les frais liés aux études de troisième cycle.

Le programme de l’internat est un certificat professionnel médical obligatoire qui qualifie son titulaire pour travailler en tant que spécialiste en Égypte et à l’étranger. Il comprend trois à six ans de formation, selon la spécialisation, suivis d’un test final.

 

Grèves à Lord for Industry and Trade

Une grève rassemblant près de 2000 travailleurs a éclaté fin juillet au sein de l’entreprise de fabrication de rasoirs Lord for Industry and Trade et a donné lieu au licenciement de 49 salariés. La direction de l’entreprise a notamment licencié 34 nouveaux travailleurs, dont aucun n’a travaillé dans l’entreprise pendant plus de quatre mois au-delà de la période de formation de six mois, et qui n’ont donc pas le droit de s’opposer à la décision devant les tribunaux du travail. La grève avait commencé le 26 juillet dernier après que les primes de l’Aïd al-Adha aient été déduites des salaires des employés. Les travailleurs avaient exigé un salaire minimum plus élevé, des contrats de travail permanents au lieu de contrats renouvelables annuellement, la transparence des bénéfices annuels de l’entreprise et une rétribution minimale des bénéfices de l’entreprise de 2 000 LE. Cependant, la direction a seulement promis d’augmenter le salaire minimum à 2 400 LE, qui correspond au taux qui a été fixé pour la première fois en Égypte par le Conseil national des salaires en juin dernier, qui entrera en vigueur en janvier prochain.

 

La Nouvelle capitale en bourse ?

Mi-août, le Président Abdel Fattah al Sissi a annoncé le projet du gouvernement d’introduire la Société de la Nouvelle capitale administrative à la Bourse égyptienne, afin que les liquidités de la société dans les banques “deviennent des 100 milliards de LE” dans les deux ans, ajoutant que les actifs de la société pourraient atteindre 3 à 4 trillions de LE dans la même période s’ils sont inscrits à l’EGX.

En février 2016, al Sissi avait alloué à l’Agence des projets terrestres des forces armées les terrains pour l’établissement de la nouvelle capitale administrative. L’organisme chargé de la planification et du développement de la nouvelle capitale est la Capitale administrative pour le développement urbain, une société par actions composée de deux parties : l’Autorité des nouvelles communautés urbaines, qui est affiliée au ministère du logement, d’une part, et l’Agence nationale des projets fonciers des forces armées et l’Organisation nationale des produits de service, deux organismes affiliés à l’armée, d’autre part, les entités des forces armées contrôlant 51 % des actions. Le budget de la société n’est pas donc pas public, les règles qui stipulent que le budget des forces armées ne peut être examiné par la Chambre s’appliquant également au budget de la société.

D’autres entreprises publiques devraient également bientôt être cotées en bourse. Le projet, lancé en 2018, avait initialement identifié 23 entreprises pour être cotées en bourse ; une seule, la Eastern Tobacco Company a jusqu’à alors été mise sur le marché.

Amendment facilitating the dismissal of state employees

In mid-July, the House of Representatives approved an amendment to a law dating from 1970 which will allow senior civil servants to dismiss employees of the public sector or public companies on the basis of a “violation of professional obligations” of a manner that harms “national economic interest or production” and if there is “serious evidence” that an employee has “damaged national security and stability.” Being included on a terrorist list by the government would constitute proof of this threat and therefore grounds for dismissal without prior disciplinary action, while the civil service law requires procedures such as a disciplinary committee and an administrative investigation. As of April 2021, more than 6,700 names were included on the state’s terrorist lists.

This amendment, which was first proposed in November 2020, was brought back to the forefront after statements by Transport Minister General Kamal al Wazir following multiple train accidents last April , accusing agitators and “extremists” among public transport employees to be responsible for sabotage.

As early as late July, the Supreme Council of Universities issued instructions to university presidents to submit the names of their employees on the government’s terrorist lists for dismissal.

 

Return of charters to the Red Sea

At the beginning of July, flights from Germany to Hurghada resumed, after more than a year of suspension due to Covid 19.

Russia also announced the resumption of its connection with Red Sea airports – in Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh – suspended after the plane crash in the Sinai in October 2015, which left 224 dead. The decision was amended in April 2018 to allow flights to Cairo but still excluded Red Sea resorts. Earlier this month, Russia sent a delegation to Egypt to assess the situation and preventive measures in tourist areas and inspect laboratories and medical facilities.

 

Social insurance for informal workers

Nearly 11,000 informal sector workers reportedly began receiving social insurance contributions through the government this month. Workers have previously been registered, given a national insurance number and a rating indicating their skill level.

The Minister of Manpower, Mohamed Saafan, and the head of the National Social Insurance Authority, Gamal Awad, also signed a protocol aimed at extending social protection for irregular workers and developing a system of information sharing, in an attempt to formalize the informal economy. The list of irregular jobs includes migrant workers, religious workers, domestic workers, self-employed workers such as street vendors, artisans, informal car park managers and shoe cleaners.

A similar attempt is being made among workers in the tourism sector. A system to create a database of workers in this sector at the national level would have been created.

 

Releases

The Eid al-Adha festivities were notably marked by the release of six prominent political prisoners. Human rights lawyer Mahienour el Masrry, journalist and activist Esraa Abdel Fattah, journalists Mostafa al-Asar, Moataz Wadnan, Gamal al-Gammal and deputy head of the Socialist Popular Alliance party Abdel Nasser Ismail is among the released detainees. Moataz Wadnan and Mostafa al-Asar spent almost two years in pre-trial detention, following their arrests in February 2018. Mahienour el Massry was arrested in September 2019 in front of the headquarters of the State Security prosecutor’s office while she tried to representing detainees arrested during the vast arrest campaign launched after anti-government protests a few days earlier. Esraa Abdel Fattah was arrested in her car the following month. These releases follow those of journalists Solafa Magdy and Hossam el Sayed, released last April, after nearly a year and a half in pre-trial detention.

The young graduate Ahmed Samir Santawy , the journalist Hisham Fouad and the activist Ahmed Badawi began hunger strikes to protest against their sentences or the extension of their pre-trial detention, supported by certain public figures who announced a one-day strike. hunger in solidarity with prisoners of conscience. Hisham Fouad and Ahmed Badawi had to stop their protest after several days without eating due to health problems. At the end of July, it had been more than thirty days since Ahmed Samir Santawy had eaten to protest against the verdict which sentenced him to four years in prison.

 

Ten years later… the NGO affair relaunched?

Human rights lawyer Negad al-Borai and human rights activist and head of the Arab Human Rights Information Network Gamal Eid, lawyer and head of the Assistance Center legal adviser of Egyptian women Azza Solima, followed by the Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Hossam Baghat were questioned in the case of illegal financing of certain NGOs during the month of July. This affair , which began during the interim government of the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) following the deposition of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, has experienced multiple twists and turns . 17 Egyptian and international associations , accused of illicit financing, were raided then closed and their staff prosecuted – including 19 American nationals. Among members of Egyptian civil society, 13 have received travel bans and had their assets frozen since 2016.

In 2018, 43 employees were acquitted – without the travel ban decisions or asset freezes being lifted for the Egyptian defendants – after being sentenced in 2013 to between one and five years in prison.

These new interrogations, described as “reassuring” by the officials questioned, could mean the imminent closure of this long-term affair, widely vilified by the international community and the United Nations, but not necessarily the lifting of the travel bans. An appeal procedure was launched in 2018 by the 13 lawyers and members of civil society involved to protest against this ban – which legally cannot exceed two years – in vain.

 

 

Second filling of the GERD

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the end of the second filling of the GERD on July 20. The United Nations Security Council held a session on July 8 to discuss the dam issue at the request of Egypt and Sudan, but no decision was made following the session. Delegations from other member states stressed their support for African Union mediation to resolve the crisis. According to Sudanese Minister of Irrigation, Yasser Abbas, the volume of water collected during this second filling would be “much lower than what Ethiopia had announced and aimed for.”