Wednesday’s papers: PM makes it to the office for first time amid ongoing protests

Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri's address to the People's Assembly, Islamists' domination of the assembly's special committees and their recent Shura Council electoral successes make headlines in Wednesday's papers.

Protest marches in downtown Cairo demanding the military hand over power to Parliament, an elected president, or civilian presidential council, as well as the abduction of 25 Chinese technical advisers at a Sinai cement factory also make the front pages.

Independent Youm7 newspaper leads with "Ganzouri before Parliament: We are reaping the results of 10 years of plunder." Speaking during Tuesday's session, the interim prime minister reportedly said, "Security is the government's foremost priority … Egypt's future depends on the improvement of the economy."

Independent Al-Shorouk runs a headline that reads, "Ganzouri to MPs: Like yourselves, I was the victim of injustice." He attempted to draw parallels between the injustices he reportedly witnessed during his premiership under former President Hosni Mubarak, and the injustices that many current MPs were subjected to under the former regime, the paper writes. Ganzouri is quoted as saying, "Today I see faces in Parliament whose names we were forbidden from mentioning."

The liberal party paper Al-Wafd writes about Ganzouri entering his office for the first time. Since the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces tasked him for the job in November, he worked at other locations because protesters camped outside the cabinet headquarters in opposition to his appointment. Although the "Occupy Cabinet" sit-in was forcefully dispersed in mid-December, Ganzouri continued to work elsewhere.

The state-owned Al-Gomhurriya runs a story on the same topic. The paper also reports on Tuesday's parliamentary session, writing, "MPs demand LE100,000 in compensation for the families of each [revolution] martyr." According to the paper, Ganzouri responded to the demand by promising special treatment for martyrs' families, saying, "Their blood will not have been shed in vain." The prime minister reportedly said the families could expect "retribution" and justice through the judiciary and governmental assistance.

"Shura [Council] belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nour Party," reads an Al-Gomhurriya headline after the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafi-led Nour Party won 60 percent and 25 percent of the seats contested in the first round of voting for the upper house, respectively. The liberal Egyptian Bloc and the Wafd Party together won 10 percent. The paper writes that the election is "a slap in the face of the remnants" of Mubarak's now-disbanded National Democratic Party, who did not win any seats. Seventeen political parties failed to capture a single seat, the paper writes. The vote this week saw a significantly lower voter turnout than that of elections for the lower house in December and January.  

Above a story covering People's Assembly special committees, Al-Shorouk runs the headline: "Freedom and Justice claims lion's share of parliamentary committees, followed by the Nour Party, while Egyptian Bloc, Wafd Party, and 'Revolution Continues Coalition' are at a crossroads." The article indicates that these non-Islamist parties and coalitions will be given the scraps of the remaining committees.

Several papers cover ongoing protests against the SCAF, reporting on demonstrations outside the cabinet and marches that headed toward the People's Assembly on Tuesday, calling for the SCAF to immediately hand over power.

Al-Wafd writes that protesters also demanded a purge of the ranks of the Interior Ministry and judiciary independence. Groups of Muslim Brotherhood members formed human chains around the cabinet and the People's Assembly, preventing the marchers from presenting their written demands to Parliament. In doing so, the Brotherhood members kept these protesters from presenting their written demands to parliament. Scuffles between the two groups ensued on Tuesday evening, with dozens of minor injuries reported.

Al-Shorouk and Al-Gomhurriya cover the same protest, as well as the ongoing sit-in outside Maspero.  

Independent Al-Dostour newspaper features front-page coverage of Chinese technical specialists held hostage at a Sinai cement company. According to the paper, the armed captors are a Bedouin group with extremist "Salafi-Jihadist tendencies.”

The five suspects have previously been jailed in association with the Taba bombings of 2004 and the Sharm el-Sheikh bombings of 2005. Al-Wafd runs a press release by the state-run Middle East News Agency indicating that the group has been demanding the release of five Bedouins from prison for over five years. MENA said the group is reportedly also demanding the halt of Egyptian natural gas exports to Israel, along with the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

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-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

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