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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Former President Morsi to be Tried on Terrorism Charges

Former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi will be tried in court on charges of collaborating with terrorist groups to commit acts of terrorism, in addition to sharing military secrets. The Egyptian government filed the additional charges against the deposed president yesterday and the chief prosecutor called the case “the biggest of its kind in Egyptian history.”  Morsi is already on trial for his alleged involvement in the murder of protesters, though the trial has been suspended until January. Human rights groups condemned the government’s move, and the regional director of Human Rights Watch called the new charges “fantastical.”

Lead up to the Constitutional Referendum

Egypt’s government announced their plans yesterday to hand out free copies of the new draft constitution ahead of the referendum set for mid-January. Egypt’s Minister of the Interior also said that he is aware of “all attempts made or hatched” to undermine the upcoming vote. The Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing and the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy said that they were boycotting the referendum because they don’t recognize the new government as legitimate. The Salafist Al-Nour party said that they were going to encourage people to vote in favor of the document.

Ahmed Shafiq and Mubarak’s Sons Acquitted

In a closely-followed case, a Cairo court acquitted former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq (a politician regarded by many as sullied by his close ties to former president Hosni Mubarak) and two of Mubarak’s sons on charges of corruption. Shafiq was a close contender in Egypt’s most recent presidential race, which he lost to now-deposed president Mohamed Morsi. Adding to many Egyptians’ sense of Mubarak-era deja vu, a well-known human rights activist associated with the 2011 revolution, Mohammed Adel of the April 6 Youth Movement, was detained by police, along with five other employees of the Cairo-based Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights. All were released after a period of several hours except for Adel, who remains in police custody.

Bizarre Animal Deaths at Cairo Zoo

Cairo’s government-run Giza zoo has received a lot of bad press lately, especially after an apparent giraffe suicide, in which local media reported that a giraffe killed itself by repeatedly banging its head on a steel fence. The former zoo director was quoted as saying that the media “fabricated the suicide,” but other mysterious deaths abound: a purported bear “riot” which led to the deaths of three of the zoo’s bears in a single night, and a recent rhinocerous death. Zoo keepers have also been accused of killing and selling the meat of some of the camels. Zoo officials say that the sound of guns and tear gas vapors from nearby protests have irritated the animals, but animal rights activists have condemned the conditions at the zoo for some time. Zoo employees are also notoriously underpaid, and make about $60 a month.

South Sudan Government Loses Control of City

The situation in South Sudan is unraveling, and it’s still unclear to many outside observers what exactly is taking place. The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, says that the conflict between soldiers loyal to the former vice president and his own forces is ongoing, and that they have lost control of the town of Bor, the capital of an oil-rich province.  The former vice president denies the president’s story that he is attempting to unseat the current government and also denied involvement in the conflict. Some reports indicate that the fighting is occurring along ethnic lines; the two politicians represent two different prominent ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer.

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