Kafr el-Sheikh residents protest bid to sell their homes

Thirty families from Kafr el-Sheikh moved their sit-in protest from their home province to the NDP headquarters and the National Human Rights Council in Cairo. They demonstrated against plans to sell their apartments – built as part of the national social housing project – in a public tender approved by Governor Ahmed Abdeen a month ago. They argued that they have already paid LE35 thousand from the value of their housing units, and supported their claim with receipts obtained by Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Security forces failed to prevent photographers and satellite television channels from taking images of the demonstrators. They attempted to keep the protesters away from the NDP building, asking them to take the sit-in to the parliament or the cabinet, but the protesters declined, arguing that they had already demonstrated in front of parliament in vain.

Residents of Kafr el-Sheikh hoisted banners saying: "The governor of Kafr el-Sheikh has stripped us of the right to our houses, and aims to sell them in a public bid, after we paid their value more than a year ago." They questioned what was keeping the governor in office until now despite the increasing problems suffered by the province, the last of which concerned eachers, whose condominiums were sold in a public tender.

Protesters carried bags with supplies of food and drinks, along with blankets to spend the night on the street in front of the NDP building.

They complained that no one was acting to stop the governor, whose decisions go against their constitutional rights, in particular those related to the right to housing. They added that some of them have completely furnished their apartments, evidence of their rights over the apartments and the illegality of selling them.

While the housing ministry supervises the housing project, which was part of the electoral program of President Mubarak, a senior source at the ministry told Al-Masry Al-Youm that neither the ministry nor its officials has the right to ask the governor to stop the tender. According to the source, during a recent meeting of the Governors Council last Wednesday, the governor of Kafr el-sheikh, Ahmed Abdeen, stated that the people have no right to the units, and said that they had only paid LE5000 as a down payment. He did however provide assurances that he would provide the residents with alternative housing elsewhere, which residents held to be a contradictory statement.

The residents had previously staged four strikes before the People’s Assembly and at their housing compounds in el-Riyad City, ending with a demonstration last week which continued until the public tender was canceled due to poor offers.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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