Thursday’s papers: Ethiopia dam dominates headlines, judges protest

News about Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam and Cairo’s fears over its water supply continued to dominate Thursday’s headlines in Egypt.  Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding the judicial authority law returned to the front pages as judges have planned a strike.
State-owned paper Al-Akhbar reports that Egypt would lose a quarter of its water supply every year during which the path of the Blue Nile, one of the Nile’s two major tributaries, remains altered.
The country depends on the Nile River for 85 percent of its water supply. The megaproject, however, is expected to deprive Egyptians of 12 billion cubic meters of water per year, according to a report published by a tripartite committee made up of experts from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. 
The privately-owned Al-Shorouk newspaper reports that Egypt may resort to a “diplomacy weapon” if it cannot reach common ground with Ethiopia. The paper quotes diplomatic sources who say that Egypt could seek assistance from the Arab League to resolve the crisis.
Privately owned Al-Tahrir paper writes that Pope Tawadros II, head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, refuted claims that the president’s office had asked him to pressure the Ethiopian government to back away from its decision.
Tawadros told the paper that the Ethiopian and Egyptian Churches share strong historical ties, but that this does not signify that he has the authority to interfere in the decisions of the Ethiopian authorities.
The paper also talks about the role of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders, and it concludes that they want a military intervention.  It also criticizes the government’s diplomatic approach in trying to resolve the issue.
“Egypt is not weak and it is more than capable of handling the situation if military intervention is needed,” Osama Soliman, member of the Islamist-dominated Shura council, told Al-Tahrir.
Saber Aboul Fatouh, leader of the Freedom and Justice Party, echoed the same sentiment. He suggests that military planes bomb the dam to ensure the country does not suffer from an acute water shortage.
Al-Wafd, the liberal newspaper of the opposition Wafd Party, dedicates its front page headline to the planned open-ended sit-in organized by judges in protest of proposed amendments to the judicial authority law.
The paper says that judges have been gearing up their efforts to confront the challenges posed by the Shura Council, the Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament and sole legislative body in the country.
The paper writes that the Supreme Judiciary Council decided to join members of the Judges Club in staging an open-ended sit-in starting on Friday in protest of the Shura Council’s insistence on deliberating on amendments to the judiciary law.
The club’s legal defense and youth committees have already started the sit-in on Monday at the High Constitutional Court.
The controversial bill would lower the retirement age for judges from 70 to 60, which, it is believed, would force out about one quarter of Egypt's 13,000 serving judges.
Additionally, judges issued a call for people to participate Monday in a popular march that will start at the High Constitutional Court and end at the Shura council, and which will serve to denounce the attacks on the independence of the judiciary.
Privately-owned daily Youm7 has an exclusive report which claims that Abdel Rahman Mohsen, a member of the 6 April Youth Movement who was arrested for belonging to the protest group Black Bloc, has been subjected to physical torture in jail.
Mohsen reportedly wrote a letter from prison to one of his friends asking him to expose police brutality and convey his message to the public. 
The letter also says that he and eight other Tora prison detainees, accused of being members of the Black Bloc, have gone on an open-ended hunger strike.  
Surprisingly, FJP, the mouthpiece of the Brotherhood’s political arm, diverges from its usual bias with one of today’s top headlines: “The return of gasoline queues.”
The partisan paper depicts the difficulties citizens have been facing in the last three days due to gasoline shortages across the country. The report goes on to blame the government for the disruption in the gasoline supply.

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