Wednesday’s papers: Presidential runoff heats up

Arrests following the Monday night fire at presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq’s campaign headquarters and political concessions promised by his competitor, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy, lead Wednesday’s papers.

Independent newspaper Al-Shorouk writes that the Muslim Brotherhood is advocating a presidential council and a coalition government headed by Mohamed ElBaradei, who was himself expected to be a contender in the presidential race until he withdrew.

Freedom and Justice Party lawmakers Mohamed al-Beltagy and Helmy al-Gazzar have offered former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh the vice president position, the paper reports, citing a Brotherhood source. The source also reportedly said no more than 12 ministers would be appointed from within the Islamist organization’s ranks and that the rest would come from other parties. The Muslim Brotherhood is witnessing increased anxiety due to the election and the potential for a coup aimed at destroying the group should Morsy win the presidency, Al-Shorouk reported the source as saying.

State-run Al-Ahram writes that Morsy has vowed to include a number of former presidential candidates, Copts, women and youth in his administration.  

Morsy will face off against Shafiq in the 16 and 17 June runoff after the two finished on top of the first round vote last week.

After the results were officially announced Monday, protesters set fire to Shafiq’s campaign headquarters in Dokki. Al-Shorouk reports that four people have been arrested in connection with the fire, including Bahaa Abdel Azim, a member of the Democratic Front Party; Ahmed Fathy, a member of the Adl Party; and Sultan Fares.

Mostafa Abdel Aziz, a member of the Shafiq campaign, said he received a 9 pm anonymous phone call warning him that protesters planned to burn down the office. He also alleged that a number of laptops and important documents were stolen. During investigations, the accused purportedly alleged that activist Alaa Abd El Fattah and his sister Mona were behind the fire, according to Al-Shorouk.

State-run Al-Ahram newspaper reports that investigations into the arson continue and that police are working to arrest 15 suspects. Police used a video they received from an eyewitness to identify the accused. 

Freedom and Justice, the FJP paper, leads this morning with Morsy endorsements from the Islamic Forces Coalition and the head of the Salafi-oriented Nour Party, Emad Abdel Ghafour. The paper also highlights a Foreign Policy magazine article saying Morsy is the more likely candidate to keep the military in check, leaving out all the critical words published about the Brotherhood and its candidate.

In an interview with political thinker and former Health Minister Helmy al-Hadidy, state-run Al-Akhbar writes that he viewed the presidential election as calm despite bribery in the form of handing cooking oil and sugar to voters. Hadidy said democracy is a big issue and that Egypt hasn’t yet taken its first step toward it. He said the second round would be rough due to the conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and “feloul,” a word used to describe remnants of the Mubarak regime.

Hadidy said democracy is impossible as long as half the population is illiterate and 40 percent of it remains below the poverty line, adding that Egypt will experience real democracy when the presidential symbols are canceled and voters can read the name of their candidate.

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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