Thursday’s papers: Potential consensus candidate in the fold

Potential presidential candidates will be able to officially register on Saturday, as the Presidential Elections Commission has finalized preparations for the process. According to independent daily Al-Shorouk, the commission announced seven major campaign violations that candidates must avoid, including personal attacks on opponents and using religious slogans in advertisements.

State newspapers Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar are the only dailies to prominently feature the decision of Mansour Hassan, the head of the ruling military junta’s Advisory Council, to run for president. Hassan, a former information minister, refuted the notion that he would be the consensus candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood and Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, according to Al-Akhbar. On the other hand, the paper reports that former military general Sameh Seif al-Yazal announced that he would be managing Hassan’s campaign, and is set to be his deputy if he wins.

The Brotherhood and Salafi parties have yet to announce their support for any specific candidate, despite the fact the Abdel Moneim al-Shahat, a prominent Salafi figure from Alexandria, said the two entities were leaning toward convincing Supreme Judicial Council head Hossam al-Gheriany to run for president, according to privately owned Al-Shorouk. Independent daily Al-Fagr says Shahat refused to endorse former Brotherhood leader Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh in Alexandria. The same paper also reports that the Brotherhood will endorse a candidate under the condition that its current deputy supreme guide, Khairat al-Shater, is chosen as vice president. This is all part of a larger report in Al-Fagr outlining an alleged plan by the Brotherhood to rule Egypt vis-à-vis co-opting and installing its members in government institutions.

Nour Party spokesperson Nader Bakar said his group will announce who it is endorsing for president on Thursday, according to Al-Shorouk.

Two party papers, Al-Wafd and Freedom and Justice, did not mention the presidential elections in their coverage.

Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri’s government is apparently “taking its last breath” as a result of the SCAF’s refusal to come out with a statement clarifying their role in the foreign funding fiasco, according to Freedom and Justice paper sources. Instead, Ganzouri feels his government is receiving the brunt of criticism over the incident. The foreign funding case against 43 NGO workers will continue today in the absence of the American defendants, Freedom and Justice reports. The defendants present have objected to the fact that the court announced the session only 72 hours prior, giving the defense what they said was inadequate preparation time, according to Al-Shorouk. In an article in Al-Fagr, Adel Hamouda outlines and summarizes the foreign elements involved in pressuring the Egyptian government to return the American defendants. He says on the day they left Egypt, Saudi Arabia handed over US$3.75 billion in promised funds to Egypt, and that the US told the Saudis to tie the foreign funding issue in with this payment.

Al-Shorouk reports an unspecified number of MPs are upset that Ganzouri’s government has declined to accept responsibility for the foreign funding fiasco, and think he must go.

Planning and International Cooperation Minister — and perpetual SCAF apologist and spokesperson — Fayza Abouelnaga has said only the SCAF has the right to form a new government, according to Al-Ahram. However, it is likely that Abouelnaga has no reason to fret. She somehow manages to stay stapled to her seat in government no matter how many times entire cabinets are changed.

An outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Egypt’s livestock is causing panic after more than 1,400 calves were recently identified as having the disease, according to Al-Ahram. The Health Ministry confirmed that, as of yesterday, the disease has not been transmitted to any human beings. Al-Shorouk also confirmed with Health Ministry sources that it is unlikely that the disease would be transmitted to humans in the future. Many governorates were ordered not to transport livestock yesterday out of the fear that the disease could spread further, according to Al-Wafd. Gharbiya Governorate appears to be particularly hit hard, as over 3,000 calves with expired vaccinations were quarantined yesterday.

More court decisions are being handed down for cases spawning from the 18-day uprising against Hosni Mubarak’s rule early last year. The high military court has sentenced two suspects to death for killing an army major while securing roads in the Atfeeh neighborhood on 7 February 2011, according to Al-Ahram. Three others were given life sentences.

At the same time, the Cairo Criminal Court acquitted police officer Mohamed al-Sunni and two fellow police captains on the charge of killing protesters in the Zawyah al-Hamra district in northern Cairo on 28 January 2011, according to Al-Wafd. The court thereby reversed another ruling that found Sunni guilty and sentenced him to life in prison in absentia last year.

Al-Wafd reports on the “shambolic Interior Ministry” in an article devoid of evidence or numbers that attempts to analyze the lack of security policy or coherent tactics behind the ministry’s supposed return to work.

The butane gas shortage is apparently close to being resolved — at least for a short while — as the social solidarity and domestic trade minister has announced his ministry is releasing an additional 1.25 million tanks into the market, Al-Akhbar says.

If all of this news is too heavy for you, and you need a bit more fluff in your life, worry not. Al-Fagr’s back page is dedicated to only one thing: the beauty of Marilyn Monroe. Writer Essam Zakaria uses the words “undying seduction” to describe the late actress' beauty. The piece may somehow be tied into International Women’s Day.

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