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Friday, November 8, 2013

Timeline Set for New Elections

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy has announced that the interim government will hold parliamentary elections in February or March, and that they plan to hold presidential elections in the summer. The political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice party (FJP) will be allowed to participate in elections. The current government is expected to leave office by late spring, Fahmy said, though he didn’t give specific dates. The referendum on the new constitution is expected to be put to popular vote in December. In other news, Fahmy also spoke about Egypt’s need to develop closer ties with Russia, and said that Russia’s foreign and defense ministers will be in Cairo next week to meet with Egyptian officials and discuss future economic agreements and arms trading.

Group Calls for Protests Against New Draft Protest Law

No, this isn’t an Onion headline. Egypt’s controversial draft protest law which places heavy restrictions on demonstrations is causing a stir among liberal and conservative groups. Jama’a al-Islamiyya, a conservative Islamic group, has called for rallies and demonstrations to show their discontent with the new law which is expected to be approved by the Egyptian cabinet by next week, before Egypt’s emergency law becomes null and void. A spokesperson for the group said that the new law was a harsher alternative to the existing state of emergency. One of the founding members of Tamarod, the campaign that pushed millions into the streets to protest against former President Morsi, has said that the new draft law is unjust, and representatives from the liberal April 6 Youth Movement have also condemned the law.

Draft Constitution To Dissolve Upper House of Egypt’s Parliament

The 50-person committee that drafted Egypt’s new constitution has voted to do away with the Shura Council, the upper chamber of the Egyptian parliament. The council primarily serves as an advisory body and was the subject of fierce debate during committee proceedings. Former president Anwar Sadat established the Shura Council in 1979; one-third of the members are appointed by the president and the rest are elected. The council appoints the head of Egypt’s state media organizations and serves in an advisory role on legislative matters. It has been criticized for being a waste of money and several different political parties, including the Egyptian Socialist party and the Strong Egypt party called for its dissolution.

Egypt and Nuclear Power

Egypt is relaunching its nuclear power program, interim president Adly Mansour announced in a speech this week. The government has drawn up plans to build the country’s first nuclear power plant in Dabaa in the Marsa Matruh province on the Mediterranean coast. The concept is not new: almost every former Egyptian president developed plans to build a nuclear power plant but all failed, for various reasons -  war, revolution, internal politics. Many of Dabaa’s residents actively oppose the idea and have rejected the government’s plans to forcibly relocate them. Construction is not expected to begin until 2016 at the earliest.

Weekend Read

The New York Times’ well-researched piece No Morsel Too Miniscule for All-Consuming N.S.A. opens up new questions in the ongoing debate about privacy and the internet.

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