Tuesday’s papers: NDP candidates and breadline clashes

As parliamentary elections approach, the front pages of state-owned papers report that President Hosni Mubarak has set the criteria for selecting National Democratic Party candidates.

NDP secretary-general Safwat al-Sherif is quoted in Al-Ahram newspaper as saying that party members interested in running for parliament should apply to be selected between August 21 and 28.

The NDP selection process is usually problematic. In the past two elections, many members who failed to make it past the selection committee broke ranks with the party ahead of the polls and ran as independents. Upon their victory, they joined the NDP again to ensure the ruling party had at least an 80-percent majority in parliament.

The party’s critics have always shrugged off this pattern as a maneuver by the NDP to deceive voters who would not normally vote for a candidate running under the NDP banner.

News of water shortages also occupies a major space on the front pages of both Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar. While Al-Ahram reports that water shortages have been fully solved in all New Cairo suburbs after at least four days of shortages, Al-Akhbar reports that the water supply is being gradually restored.

One water shortage in the affluent residential suburbs of Rehab and Madinaty makes headlines, provoking several opinion pieces that question the government’s ability to provide basic services to expanding satellite cities and suburbs.

Besides basic services, it seems the government is still incapable of ensuring the smooth subidization of bread. Privately-owned Al-Shorouq headlines on its front pages news of the death of a young man in bread queues in Upper Egypt. The paper says 24-year-old Sameh Azer died while standing in bread lines in the southern city of Naga Hamadi. His family have voiced suspicion over the cause of death and refused to receive his body until the matter is resolved.

A provisional forensic report confirmed that Azer died of low blood pressure and found no traces of criminal substances, reports Al-Shorouq. Long lines and violent confrontations are common at state-owned bakeries, where Egyptians line up in their thousands to receive low-quality subsidized bread.

Away from politics, the front pages of both government-owned and private dailies also make room to follow up news of clashes that broke out between al-Ahly and Algerian Shabibat al-Qabael football teams earlier this week. Al-Akhbar quotes Hadi Khashaba, head of the football department at al-Ahly, as saying his club will file a complaint with the African Union.

Privately-owned Al-Dostour runs the most indendiary headline on the matter: The paper quotes al-Ahly coach Hossam al-Badri as saying that Algerians wish to reignite tensions between the two nations. Last year, a verbal war erupted between Egypt and Algeria after their national teams met in games qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. Satellite television channels served as the battlefield on which Egyptian and Algerian football pundits exchanged accusations that went beyond sports.

In an outlandish show, a former Egyptian football player dismissed Algerians as a foundling nation. In Algiers, thousands of football fans were reported to have taken to the streets and attacked Egyptian firms, including Egypt Air. Hostility culminated in violent street clashes in Sudan, where the Egyptian team was defeated by its Algerian counterpart and lost the battle for the World Cup tournament.

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouq: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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