The saga of moving a no-confidence vote against the military-backed cabinet continues. Yet today's papers give conflicting accounts on the matter. The state-owned daily Al-Ahram leads with: "The crisis of withdrawing confidence from [Kamal] al-Ganzouri's cabinet is contained."
The paper reports that the generals, the cabinet and the leaders of the People's Assembly held talks on Monday to contain the situation. It goes on to say that a group of MPs had held internal talks and agreed not to withdraw confidence anytime soon but also to not repeal the decision to sack the cabinet.
The MPs concluded that the best option is to maintain their same anti-Ganzouri tone and, in the meantime, drag out the legal process required to withdraw confidence until the transitional period ends in late June, according to Al-Ahram. This way, Parliament believes it won't clash with the generals who insist that Ganzouri's cabinet stay in office until they leave power.
Meanwhile, the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party gives an opposing account. The front page quotes an FJP leader as saying Parliament will withdraw confidence from the cabinet in two weeks.
In the story, Khaled Mohamed, an FJP lawmaker, denied the Al-Ahram report that Parliament won't sack the cabinet before June to avoid a potential stand-off with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, insisting that the getting rid of the current cabinet and forming a new one would take no more than three weeks.
Regarding the military's resistance to such a move, Mohamed told the Freedom and Justice newspaper: "The SCAF’s rejection of the Parliament's decision would mean a new political crisis, given the public outrage vis-a-vis the bad performance of Ganzouri's cabinet over the last three months."
On another front, Freedom and Justice reports that MPs from the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee met on Sunday with the Civil Aviation Minister Hussein Massoud to inquire about reports that British authorities have arrested several Egyptian businessmen who flew to the UK from the Cairo and Alexandria airports carrying suitcases filled with US$65 million. Massoud responded by saying that intercepting smuggled funds does not fall under his jurisdiction, explaining that it is instead the responsibility of the police and customs authorities.
In the meantime, the MPs demanded that the Civil Aviation Ministry lift the ban on veils for airline flight attendants. Freedom and Justice reports that lawmakers insisted that the employees’ Muslim identity be respected. Massoud is quoted as saying: "I personally have no objection to hostesses putting on the veil; I myself have a veiled wife and all my daughters are veiled too. But such a decision requires a change in uniform, and this matter is governed by international contracts signed with different airlines."
Several papers highlight on their front pages Parliament's decision to raise the compensation granted to each family of a martyr of the 25 January revolution from LE30,000 to LE100,000, reports Al-Shorouk. The paper highlights some MPs' demand to exclude families of "thugs" who died while attacking police stations.
The independent Al-Tahrir newspaper quotes anonymous sources as saying the Brotherhood has decided to back Judge Hossam al-Gheriany, the president of the Supreme Judicial Council, in the presidential race. The sources said the group has already discussed the matter with Gheriany but won't announce the endorsement until the candidate registration period is over.
Salafi parties have reached an agreement with the Brothers to back the same candidate, the privately owned daily continues. Mahmoud Hussein, the Brotherhood's secretary general, refused to comment on whether the group has agreed on Gheriany, reiterating the Brothers' position that they won’t announce who they are backing before the nomination phase ends in April.
Hussein said the group will act firmly against any member who decides to back Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, a former leader of the group, according to Al-Tahrir. The paper quotes sources close to Gheriany as saying he is being pressured by the Brotherhood and Salafi groups to run.
Government-owned Al-Akhbar daily reports that Abouel Fotouh has so far outdone his contenders by collecting 23,500 citizen endorsements. The paper expects that Abouel Fotouh will meet the requirement of securing 30,000 endorsements by Tuesday.
Al-Akhbar goes on to say that Amr Moussa, former secretary general of the Arab League, is in second; Salafi and former Brotherhood member Hazem Abu Ismail is in third; and Nasserist Hamdeen Sabbahi is in fourth. The paper does not provide the total number of endorsements garnered so far by any of the latter three presidential hopefuls.
Al-Shorouk reports that the Wasat Party, a moderate Islamist party, is holding talks with Abouel Fotouh and Mohamed Selim al-Awa, a moderate Islamist lawyer also running, to convince one of them to withdraw from the race to avoid splitting the vote of the moderate Islamist constituency.
Again on the presidential race, Ahmed al-Sawy has an important column in the privately owned Al-Shorouk daily. The column is not about who the generals' candidate is or who the Muslim Brotherhood will back — the two hottest issues in today's politics. Sawy instead addresses his fellow journalists by discussing whether a newspaper has the right to back a certain nominee.
He mentions that endorsing a particular candidate is quite acceptable in Western democracies, as long as the paper declares its position to the readers for the sake of transparency. He insists that the paper should not base its decision of who to endorse on the owners' whims, but on an internal poll that probes the leanings of its team.
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
Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party