Egypt Democracy Watch

Here are the recent news and developments concerning the political life and democratic stirring in Egypt gathered from the Egypt Monitor.

Egypt watch is of extreme importance to the Middle East democratization research. For my comment on this subject go to Arab Democracy and Egypt Paradigm.

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Egypt Democracy Watch:
(Covers the latest two months)

Egyptian Judges Oppose New Law on Elections

The Judges Club might is preparing for conflict with the government over its introduction of a constitutional amendment. In the debate on constitutional amendments, the government wants to amend Article 88 of the constitution, that stipulates that the judiciary is the authority that monitors elections. The regime wants to create a new body to oversee the election.

Limited Cabinet Reshuffle

On Monday August 28, new cabinet members were sworn in. The limited cabinet reshuffle included the appointment of Mamdouh Marei- former chairman of the presidential elections commission in 2005 - as minister of justice. The ministry of planing and local development was divided into two ministries with former Alexandria governor, general Abdelsalam Mahgoub as minister of local development. The ministry of planing was held by Osman Mohamed Osman.

Mubarak Receives Three reports on Constitutional Reforms

President Mubarak received three reports on constitutional reforms from the People's Assembly, the Shura - Consultative Council - and the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) . The reforms will be discussed during the NDP annual conference on September 19. According to Safwat al-Sharif, speaker of the Shura Council and secretary general of the NDP, the reforms will decrease the power of the presidency and increase the power of the prime minister and the People's Assembly.

Cassation Court Ruling Cancels Elections in Nabaro District

On September 5, the Court of Cassation issued a ruling cancelling the 2005 legislative elections in the Nabaro district in the Nile Delta. The ruling is in favor of the Fouad Badrawi, vice-president of the liberal opposition Wafd party and former member of parliament. Badrawi lost his seat in 2005.

Al-Ghad Party Holding Annual Conference

Al-Ghad (Tomorrow) Party will hold its annual conference on September 8. The annual meeting is also coming in commemoration of the 2005 presidential election, where the party founder, Ayman Nour, came second. Al-Ghad also declared that three of its activists were arrested the same day, in what the party claims is an attempt by the government to jeopardize the activities of the conference.

"Islamic Group" Confirms Commitment to Non-Violence

The leadership of the "Islamic Group" (GI) or Jamaa Islamyyia - including Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman- confirmed their commitment to non-violence in a statement sent to the daily Al-Ahram newspaper. The statement, signed by eight leaders of the group, maintains that GI did not join al-Qaida as claimed lately by al-Qaida second in command, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahri.

Security Complicates Ayman Nour Surgery

Ayman Nour had to delay his heart surgery that was supposed to take place at the beginning of August. Nour blamed the security forces for the delays as they requested that surgery be conducted the day he arrived at the hospital. The medical team refused to conduct a surgery without taking time to prepare Nour. Nour also complained about mistreatment, as the security forces refused to grant Gamila Ismail, Nour's wife, the permission to visit her husband before the surgery.

Egyptian Opposition Mobilized by War in Lebanon

The entire Egyptian opposition and civil society was mobilized by the war in Lebanon over the last month. All opposition parties and civil society activists expressed their support for the Lebanese people, including Hezbollah. The opposition and civil society activists opposed the government for its inaction and renewed calls for internal reforms.

Muslim Brotherhood Threatens to Create New Labor Unions

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) declared that if the government interferes in the elections of Labor Unions, it will create parallel organizations nationwide to counter government controlled Unions. The statement was made by MB parliamentarian Saber Aboul-Fotouh and was referring the labor union elections due between September 25 and November 26.

Attorney General Releases Prisoners on Publication Offenses

The new attorney general, Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, gave instructions to release all prisoners and stop the trial of any journalist who was accused of publication offenses and at risk of being jailed. Mahmoud was applying the new law on publication offenses, Law 147 of 2006, issued this year amid tensions between the government and political reform activists.

Fourteen Detainees Start a Hunger Stricke

Fourteen political detainees began a hunger strike in the Northern city of Damanhour, in the Delta province of Behera. The group of detainees was held for two years and accused of creating an illegal organization that wants to overthrow the government. They are kept in custody despite a state security court ruling calling for their release. They are currently protesting against the harsh conditions of their detention that has led to the deterioration of their health condition.

Members of the "Islamic Group" Released

Egyptian authorities agreed to abide by a state security court verdict to release members of the Jamaa Islamiyya (Islamic Group). The group of 300 detainees spent three to five years in jail with the ministry of interior regularly renewing their detention without trial.

Al-Ghad and Kefaya Activists Arrested

On July 27, authorities arrested 13 activists from the al-Ghad (tomorrow) party and the Kefaya movement in the mediterranean city of Port-Said. The activists wanted to organize a rally in support of Lebanon and Hezbollah.

"Democratic Front" Holds founding Conference

Seventy-eight liberals held the founding conference of a new party, the Democratic Front. The founding members chose Yahia al-Gamal, former cabinet minister, and Dr Osama Harb, former member of the National Democratic Party, as representatives of the the party. The event, held on July 16 was attended by prominent political figures such as the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Mahdi Akef, the leader of al-Ghad (tomorrow) party and the coordinator of the Kefaya movement George Isaac.

Opposition Conference on the Regional Developments

On July 24, opposition parties and movements, together with intellectuals and public figures, participated in a rally attended by several thousands people in the Wafd party headquarters in Cairo to express their support for the Lebanese people. They stressed the need for internal political reforms in Arab countries as a way to tackle security challenges to Arab nations.

Gamal Mubarak Declares That Reforms Go Well

Gamal Mubarak, the assistant secretary general of the ruling National Democratic Party, declared that political and economic reforms have been going well for the last four years. Mr. Mubarak made the statement during a visit in the southern city of Minya on July 13.

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