Sunday’s papers: Presidential election and parliamentary activity

Today’s papers report that the Supreme Administrative Court annulled Saturday an earlier court order to halt the presidential election, and referred the disenfranchisement law — which would disqualify presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq — to the Supreme Constitutional Court.

Elections will therefore take place as scheduled on 23 and 24 May, and Shafiq can carry on his campaign.

On Wednesday, Banha Administrative Court in Qalyubiya Governorate had canceled the election, saying that the bylaw issued by the Presidential Elections Commission that calls on voters to go to the polls this month is illegal. But the Supreme Administrative Court, headed by Judge Magdy al-Agaty, ruled that the commission does have the right to call voters to the ballots.

State-run Al-Ahram quotes a diplomatic source in Jeddah saying that Egyptian expatriate voting, which started Friday, will last until Thursday 17 May at 8 pm, and the count results will be announced at the embassies and consulates no later than 24 May.

Expat queues at embassies in 166 countries decreased after Friday, Mohamed Shenawy, a legal and consular affairs consultant at the Foreign Ministry, told privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper. Of 586,801 expatriates registered to vote in the elections, 75,000 voted on the first day, he added.

Al-Shorouk’s front-page headline is “The Muslim Brotherhood again threatens to withdraw confidence from Ganzouri.” The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party is back to waving the request-for-information weapon at Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri’s Cabinet in Parliament. Parliamentary sources confirmed that FJP MP Akram al-Shaer, head of the Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, is to call for a no-confidence vote against Ganzouri and the justice and agriculture ministers.

According to Al-Shorouk, 18 parliamentarians have requested that several ministers appear for questioning, including Justice Minister Adel Abdel Hamid, for not processing corruption cases filed against Shafiq, who as well as being a presidential candidate is a general and a former civil aviation minister.

Party paper Freedom and Justice adds that FJP MP Yasser Ibrahim has also requested that Ganzouri and the interior minister appear for questioning on the relationship between Waily Police Station and the group of “thugs” who attacked a sit-in by the Defense Ministry last week. Citizens have come forward alleging that they witnessed police officers paying the thugs to carry out the attack, which led to clashes in which 12 people died and hundreds were injured.

State-run Al-Gomhurriya reports that a Switzerland court has issued a final decision allowing Egypt to be a plaintiff in a case of money laundering in which former President Hosni Mubarak, his wife Suzanne, and nine others are implicated.

Three trials were in session on Saturday: those dealing with the Battle of the Camel, the Port Said football violence and former Mubarak-era Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif’s corruption case.

The lawyer representing businessman Ibrahim Kamel, a defendant in the Battle of the Camel trial, requested the resignation of the Cairo Criminal Court judge’s panel, accusing it of ignoring evidence in the case, reports party paper Al-Wafd. While some defendants chanted “Go away!” from their cage in the courtroom, others disagreed with the request. Al-Wafd adds that Aisha Abdel Hady, former minister of manpower and immigration and a defendant in the case, passed out during the trial and the court ordered her hospitalization.

As for the Port Said football violence — in which 74 were killed after a football game in February — witness number 11 in the trial Hesham Mohamed said that military officials refused to open the gates of the stadium’s eastern wing to allow people to escape the attackers, reports Al-Wafd. Another witness testified that police officers refused to interfere and defend him while he was being attacked.

Cairo Criminal Court adjourned Nazif’s trial to Sunday to complete witnesses’ testimonials.

Privately owned Youm7 newspaper runs a front-page story saying that Farouk al-Oqda, governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, is holding talks in Washington, DC, with the International Monetary Fund over a US$3.2 billion loan as part of preparing the annual budget. Oqda discussed with the IMF the government’s economic reform plans, upon which the loan is conditional.

Egypt’s papers:

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

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

Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Watan: Daily, privately owned

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

Youm7: Daily, privately owned

Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned

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

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party

Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party

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