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Egypt News Update (14 January 2014)

[Inked fingers after casting their vote on the 2012 constitutional referendum. Image originally posted to Flickr by monasosh.] [Inked fingers after casting their vote on the 2012 constitutional referendum. Image originally posted to Flickr by monasosh.]

[This is a collection of news updates on Egypt compiled from multiple sources by the editors.]


Seven Killed In Clashes On First Day of Egypt's Referendum

Pro-Brotherhood supporters clash with police in several parts of Egypt.

Seven people were killed in clashes involving supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday, the first day in a referendum on a new constitution, security sources told Ahram Arabic news website.

Four were killed others wounded in a march led by Brotherhood supporters near a polling station in the southern Egyptian governorate of Sohag.

Police fired teargas to disperse the crowd and heavy gunfire was reported. It was unclear how the violence started.

Earlier in the day, a twenty-five-year-old man was killed during a protest against the referendum in the southern Beni Suef governorate.

Two were killed during the clashes in Giza's Nahya district.

Egyptians turned out at polling stations on Tuesday to vote on a new charter that authorities have billed as the first step in a post-30 June political roadmap towards democratic rule.

[This article originally appeared on Ahram Online.]


UK Supports Egypt's Elections In 2014

UK official affirms his government's endorsement of Egypt's elections, reiterates the necessity of an inclusive mainstream political process.

The UK government has expressed its support for the presidential and parliamentary elections which will be held in Egypt if the constitutional amendments are endorsed.

"The UK continues to support the Egyptian people to choose their government in elections in 2014,” UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson told Ahram Online correspondent in London Amer Sultan, adding that the political future of Egypt belongs to the Egyptian people.

The UK hopes 2014 elections will be a step forward in achieving stability.

However, the UK government has repeatedly advised the Egyptian authorities to work for reconciliation and an inclusive political process since the overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi more than six months ago.

"The UK government believes stability and security are best served in Egypt by bringing all Egyptians into the mainstream political process,” the spokesperson said.

In the same vein, London also believes that the Muslim Brotherhood should not be ruled out of the political process after the ouster of Morsi.

As the UK last week refused to endorse the Egyptian government's decision to designate the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, its Foreign and Commonwealth Office asserted that the Brotherhood is an entirely legal organization in the UK.

The office spokesperson nevertheless reiterated that the UK government “has been clear that [it does] not support any political party in Egypt.”

Ahram Online understands that the UK authorities have been in contact with Brotherhood representatives in London and Cairo since Morsi's removal, but the spokesperson said his government “has not had contact with the Brotherhood relating to their listing as a terrorist organization [in Egypt].”

[This article originally appeared on Ahram Online.]


Ex-Nour MP Assaulted by Brotherhood in Giza: Party Statement

The Salafist Nour Party says its former MP, Wagdi El-Seify, was assaulted by Brotherhood youth, who also “destroyed” his car, while they were marching in El-Shobak village in Giza on Tuesday afternoon.

The party’s election observers reported the incident to the police. It is yet to be confirmed whether El-Seify was injured in the attack.

[This article originally appeared on Ahram Online.]


Explosion at Egypt's North Giza Court

An explosion took place at the North Giza Court early Tuesday according to Al-Ahram Arabic website, an hour before voting in a referendum on Egypt's amended constitution begins.

The court is located in Imbaba, a district of Greater Cairo.

The façade of the court was destroyed, according to Ahram Online reporter.

Egypt’s Ministry of Interior has released a statement confirming that the explosion has not caused any injuries.

Two hours after the explosion, the Nearby polling station located 250 metres away from the explosion, at Al-Shahid Gawad Hosni School, had a queue of hundreds of voters waiting outside.

Egypt has seen a number of bomb attacks since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi last July. Most have been in Sinai, but a blast on 24 December outside a police building in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura killed sixteen people. The authorities have linked the violence to the Muslim Brotherhood, although the group denies any connection.

The 2012 constitution was amended as part of the 3 July roadmap, which included the ouster of Morsi, amending the Islamist drafted constitution–which opposition slammed for not being representative–as well as fresh parliamentary and presidential elections to follow the constitutional referendum.

[This article originally appeared on Ahram Online.]


High Security Measures Ahead of Egypt’s Post-30 June Constitution Poll

Police officers and army conscripts deployed in nearly 30317 polling stations across the country.

Final security measures have been put in place ahead of Tuesday and Wednesday's constitutional referendum, with security and army forces planning to be on hand at polling stations and centers throughout the country, state-run MENA reported.

Major General Tawfik Abdel-Samei, commander of Egypt's Central Military Zone, told MENA that all security preparations in coordination with the police had been finalized. He assured that polling stations will be secured on the inside by security forces, with members of the armed forces deployed outside, and additional armed security personnel stationed on the roofs to anticipate any emergency that may disrupt the voting process.

No vehicles will be allowed to park in the vicinity of the polling stations, he added.

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, for his part, warned on Monday against any attempts to spoil the referendum, stressing that they would be met with "force and firmness."

Over 160,000 police officers and army conscripts will be securing a total of 30,317 polling stations throughout Egypt, according to Al Ahram's Arabic news website.

Approximately 53,423,485 citizens are eligible to vote in the referendum.

The new constitution, if approved, will replace the 236-article charter from 2012, which had been drafted by an Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly. As part of the post-30 June political roadmap, a successful referendum will be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections within the next six months.

[This article originally appeared on Ahram Online.]


Strong Egypt Party to Boycott The Referendum

Party criticizes arrest of members who were campaigning for a 'no' vote.

The Strong Egypt Party will boycott this week's constitutional referendum because of a failure by authorities to guarantee a fair and democratic process.

The party held a press conference on Monday in Cairo to announce their decision to boycott the referendum, which is set to take place on14 and 15 January. In a statement, the party cited several measures as compromising the democratic principles of the upcoming vote; the right for voters to cast their ballots outside their area of residence; the mass media propaganda campaign and the exploitation of public money and resources behind the vote "yes" campaign; and the arrest campaign targeting Strong Egypt members who were supporting the vote "no" campaign.

At least seven Strong Party Egypt members have been arrested in Cairo and elsewhere in recent weeks for possession of posters supporting the no-vote campaign. On Monday, Human Rights Watch issued a statement condemning the arrests.

In the press release, the Strong Egypt Party stated that the party will always support legal mechanisms as a means to revolve political disputes, provided that the process is conducted with guarantees of the political and civil liberties of the citizens.

The party called on all Egyptians to remain peaceful at demonstrations, and not to attack public or private property, but said it is not planning any protests in the near future.

“We will not be part of any demonstrations or marches during the referendum, preferring the higher interests of the nation, and to preserve its sons’ blood,” the statement said.

The party supported the 30 June protests which led to the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi last year. According to the statement, the party's disagreement with the current regime started on 3 July (the date of Morsi's ouster) and the "bloodshed, imprisonment and violations" that followed.

[This article originally appeared on Ahram Online.]

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