Thursday’s papers are a dominated by announcements of a return to Tahrir Square Friday and continuing dissension around a supra-constitutional principles document being circulated by Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy.
Hazem Abu Ismail, an Islamist presidential hopeful, exhorted citizens to return to Tahrir Square and asked the ruling military council to surrender power by 30 April 2012 at the latest, writes privately owned Youm7. The military has postponed presidential elections until late 2012 or early 2013.
Local papers also report on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties’ decision to join tomorrow's “Friday of One Demand” protest, which will call for the revocation of controversial articles in the constitutional principles document.
The government is nearing a final decision on the document, according to government-owned daily Al-Ahram. The proposed document has aroused controversy across the political spectrum for articles 9 and 10, which would protect the military's decisions and budget from oversight by the elected civilian government.
Al-Ahram quotes Prime Minister Essam Sharaf as saying that an amended version of the supra-constitutional document will soon be ready.
Sharaf said Wednesday that the cabinet has also nearly agreed on how Egyptians abroad will cast their votes and it is waiting for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ final approval, privately owned Youm7 says.
In other news, leftist party paper Al-Wafd details violent disputes in Upper Egypt and the flow of Sudanese weapons that have armed the combatants, comparing the events to a movie plot. Police have struggled to contain the violence, which was responsible for the death of a Canadian tourist last week.
Former President Hosni Mubarak’s lawyer has been kicked out of the Lawyers Syndicate for committing forgery in 2008, according to privately owned Al-Shorouk. This news is the latest surprise in the protracted cases against Mubarak and former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, who are both facing criminal charges for their involvement in killing protesters during the 25 January revolution.
Papers also continue to follow unrest in the Mediterranean port city of Damietta, where citizens have been protesting the expansion of a local MOPCO-Agrium factory which has allegedly caused serious damage to the local environment.
Al-Shorouk quotes a government source accusing the protesters of trying cause unrest before parliamentary elections. In the story, Trade and Industry Minister Mahmoud Eissa warned against taking the factory owners to court.
“The ruling could be in the billions [of pounds], and unfortunately we aren’t able to pay that right now," the paper reported him as saying.
State-run Al-Ahram and Al-Akbar report on the security measures being taken in preparation for parliamentary elections.
Al-Akbar announces the arrest of so-called thugs in the lead-up to the elections. Security precautions are being taken for the 3492 election centers in nine governorates, according to General Sami Sayed and SCAF head Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.
An op-ed by Mahmoud Atteya in Al-Akhbar, titled “My dear, we are all remnants of the old regime,” a play off of the Facebook page, “We are all Khaled Saeed,” discusses the hypocrisy and danger of outlawing anyone affiliated with the Mubarak government from running in elections. Calling someone a “remnant of the regime” has become a popular form of slander, Atteya writes.
“If we really understand the meaning of ‘remnant of the regime,’ we might understand that … the National Democratic Party did not cultivate corruption by itself.” Later in the op-ed, he goes on to say, “The files are many and difficult to go through, and we need years and years to go through all of them. Oh God, by Egypt’s false definition, my dear, we will all have become ‘remnants.’”
An Al-Shorouk cartoon lampoons the SCAF's arbitrary use of military trials for civilians — the most high-profile being that of political dissident and blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah. The cartoon depicts an army general surveying the city from Cairo Tower, the city’s tallest structure.
“Hey you, yeah you, the guy in the red pullover strolling along the Nile Corniche, at attention!” he calls out. “I’ll see you in military court tomorrow.”
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-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