In an attempt to shore up the Constituent Assembly days before the Administrative Court's decision on its dissolution, President Mohamed Morsy ratified the law regulating its formation in order give it legal immunity against being disbanded by the court. Although the law was ratified and published in the official gazette last Thursday, 12 July, it is the top story in Egypt's local newspapers on Monday. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces had originally refused to approve the law drafted by Parliament before its dissolution in 14 June.
Newspapers' take on the news differed across the private and state newspapers. Privately-owned Al-Shorouk's front-page headline described Morsy's action as a "maneuver" as the headline reads, "Morsy negotiates with the military council and maneuvers by immunizing the assembly." Hours after holding a meeting with the SCAF to assuage the Parliament dissolution crisis and reach a mutual agreement, the president blew up a legal bomb yesterday by ratifying the Constituent Assembly Law, reported Al-Shorouk.
Privately-owned Al-Tahrir newspaper uses a sharp tone against Morsy by running a headline that says, "Nobody knows what Morsy wants: The president breaches the law again by immunizing the Constituent Assembly 24 hours before the verdict on its constitutionality." Provocatively, the story leads with, "Nobody knows what President Mohamed Morsy wants, all his decisions until now are taken in violation of the laws and to preserve the Muslim Brotherhood's interests."
The new privately-owned Al-Watan newspaper highlights a conflict between Morsy and the SCAF by connecting Morsy's actions to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi's words from a recent speech during a military celebration, "We won't allow one group to control Egypt."
"The president defies and the field marshal warns," says Al-Watan's front-page headline as it places stories about Tantawi's speech and Morsy's decision on the Constituent Assembly opposite each other under one headline.
However, the Freedom and Justice daily, the Brotherhood's mouthpiece, interviews legal experts affiliated to the Islamist group confirming the legality of the decision and Morsy's jurisdiction to make it. The partisan paper interviews Brotherhood leader and lawyer Sobhi Saleh whom it titled as the "MP Sobhi Saleh, Parliament's Legislative Committee deputy head" despite Parliament's dissolution. Morsy has the right to ratify the Constituent Assembly Law, and it is binding immediately since the moment it has been published in the official gazette, said Saleh, who also expects that the Administrative Court will refer the law to the Supreme Constitutional Court.
In another preemptive move, all Shura Council members resigned from the Constituent Assembly, including two FJP members and two from the Salafi Nour Party, reported the Freedom and Justice daily. This step came as a response to those who would use the presence of some Shura Council members on the assembly as a legal argument against it in court.
This case is the second to challenge the structure of the Constituent Assembly after a court dissolved the first formation two months ago on the grounds that it was half comprised of MPs. Article 60 of the Constitutional Declaration states that Parliament should elect the Constituent Assembly. According to the court, the word "elect" stipulates that MPs cannot elect themselves and all members of the committee have to be from outside Parliament.
In contrast, state-run Al-Ahram Newspaper downplays the whole issue by running a small story at the bottom of its front page while it leads with Tantawi's speech and that of Morsy at the 19th African Union Summit currently taking place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
Morsy, whose visit marks the first of an Egyptian president to Ethiopia since the assassination attempt on former President Hosni Mubarak in 1995, asserted that Egypt is determined to be a powerful and effective focal center to support its brothers across Africa, reported Al-Ahram. "I completely believe that together we can solve the continent's political and security problems…including establishing a healthy relationship between Sudan and South Sudan, ending the conflict in Somalia and restoring stability in Mali and Guinea-Bissau," said Morsy, adding that Africa's issues will be among Egypt's top priorities.
In continuation of its war against the Brotherhood, privately-owned Al-Dostour newspaper runs a front-page headline, "The people chant 'Down with the Supreme Guide's rule,'" referring to the Brotherhood's top leader and protests held against Hillary Clinton's visit to Egypt and Morsy's meeting with her during the past two days.
"The US seeks to transform Egypt into an impoverished state. The Brotherhood and America's provocations confirm that the zero hour is near… America's occupation of the country's rule is unacceptable," says Al-Dostour. The private-owned paper also exaggerates the number of protesters outside the hotel where Clinton was staying by describing it as a "million-man protest" although other papers reported hundreds. The protest was against America's blatant interference in Egyptian affairs and making secret deals with the Muslim Brotherhood, reported Al-Dostour.
Presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali had said immediately after Clinton's press conference on Saturday that Egypt won't allow anybody to meddle in its affairs, in response to the protests.
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