Tuesday’s papers: The van Gogh heist and more power cuts

Two major items make headlines in today’s state-owned and independent newspapers: electricity cuts and the outrageous theft of the Vincent van Gogh painting.

Al-Ahram's front page reads: “Quick measures to be taken by the government in order to tackle the electricity crisis in all provinces.” The report announces that an extra 2500 megawatts will be generated to satisfy rising consumption.

Electricity cuts have been notorious in many provinces across Egypt this summer. In some Cairo neighborhoods, cuts reportedly lasted between two and four hours. The government blames the heat wave that hit Egypt this summer and resulted in excessive use of air conditioning. The government has also decided to build a station to produce electricity from solar energy in the southern province of Kom Umbo. The new venture is expected to cost US$500 million, according to Al-Ahram.

Al-Akhbar reports that the Electricity Ministry will continue to cut power on a daily basis for between 30 minutes and two hours in neighborhoods with high levels of consumption, in the hope of reducing the load on power generators. But for Al-Dostour, the problem is about more than just over-consumption. The privately-owned daily cites an anonymous government source on its front page saying that Egypt does not have enough fuel to support its generators.

Besides electricity, the disappearance of van Gogh’s Poppy Flowers remains the preoccupation of all newspapers. Al-Akhbar says that the prosecutor has ordered the detention of the head of the fine arts sector at the Culture Ministry and four guards on grounds of negligence. The paper adds that initial investigations have shown that the Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil museum was not well secured.

Opposition Al-Wafd newspaper offers a nuanced account of the investigations, saying that officials at the Culture Ministry have been exchanging accusations. To pre-empt any allegations, the Culture Ministry put the blame on Mohsen Shaalan, head of the fine arts sector, holding him fully responsible for the robbery, said Al-Wafd. On the other hand, Shaalan sent the ball back into the court of the Culture Minister, blaming the ministry for failing to spend money on the restoration and the security of the museum.

In addition to these two major stories, Al-Ahram front page quotes the speaker of the outgoing parliament, Fathi Sorour, as saying that the parliamentary elections will most likely take place in late November. Also on the elections, Al-Dostour allocates a significant spot on its front page to statements made by the Secretary-General of the National Democratic Party, Safwat Sherif, in the privately-owned Al-Osbo’ newspaper earlier this week .

Al-Dostour highlights Sherif’s insistence that President Hosni Mubarak will be the only NDP candidate in the upcoming presidential elections slated for 2011. The NDP leader also dismissed pro-Gamal Mubarak campaigns as random, and denied any links between the party and campaigners, adds Al-Dostour.

Finally, Hisham Talaat Mustafa is having more added to his plate, according to Al-Wafd, which reports that Mustafa’s brother-in-law has filed a suit accusing the Mustafa of insulting and beating him earlier this month while he was paying him a prison visit. The plaintiff is claiming compensation worth LE10,000, according to Al-Wafd. Mostapha was arrested in 2008 on grounds of instigating the murder of a Lebanese singer. In mid-2009 he was sentenced to death, however his appeal before Egypt’s Cassation Court was approved a few months later. Egypt’s highest appellate court is yet to hand down the final verdict on the case.

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-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouq: Daily, privately owned

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

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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