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Egypt’s court hands 11 Brotherhood’s leaders life sentence, drops charges against Morsi

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An Egyptian court has sentenced 11 prominent figures of the currently-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, including the group’s top chief, to life sentence in jail on charges of spying for foreign organisations.

Life sentence in Egypt is 25 years in jail.

Official news agency MENA reports that among the defendants are the Brotherhood’s guide Mohamed Badie, tycoon businessman Khairat el Shaater, and former Speaker of the Parliament Saad el Katatny.

Vice Chairman of the group’s Freedom and Justice party Essam el Eryan and the party’s General Secretary Mohamed el Beltagi are some of the defendants.

Other 17 Brotherhood’s members were handed lengthy jail terms ranging from 7 years to 10 years in prison in the same cases.

Meanwhile, six Islamists were acquitted, while charges against former president Mohamed Morsi were dropped due to his death.

The defendants have been convicted of spying with foreign organisations and leaking classified national security information.

They were also found guilty of working with armed groups inside and outside Egypt with the aim to conduct terrorist operations at home.

Morsi was ousted by the military in July 2013 in response to mass protests against his one-year rule and his Brotherhood group, which was later blacklisted as a terrorist organisation.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Egypt’s president meets Libya’s Haftar, announces Cairo initiative for Libya settlement

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi announced on Saturday an initiative for a political settlement in the neighboring war-torn Libya following his talks in Cairo with Libyan eastern-based military leader Khalifa Haftar.

Cairo Declaration, the Egyptian initiative announced by Sisi, seeks ceasefire between warring Libyan parties starting from June 8, a UN-supervised election of a Libyan presidential council and drafting a constitutional declaration to regulate elections for the later stage, Sisi said in a joint press conference following his meeting with Haftar and the Tobruk-based Libyan parliament speaker Aguila Saleh.

The Cairo initiative requires pulling out foreign mercenaries from Libya, dismantling militias and handing over their arms, so that the Libyan National Army (LNA), in cooperation with the security apparatuses, can take over their security and military responsibilities in the country, according to the Egyptian president.

Libya has been locked in a civil war since the ouster and killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The situation escalated in 2014, splitting power between two rival governments: the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital Tripoli and another in the northeastern city of Tobruk allied with Haftar’s LNA.

The initiative also seeks “unifying and regulating Libyan institutions to be able to perform their duties and guarantee fair and transparent distribution of Libyan resources to all citizens, hindering the monopoly of any extremist groups or militias over the country’s resources,” Sisi said.

“The initiative calls for respecting all relevant UN efforts and initiatives,” he added, stressing that deteriorating security in Libya affects the security of neighboring states regionally and internationally.

For his part, Haftar expressed appreciation for Egypt’s efforts to resolve the Libyan crisis and obliterate terrorism and extremism in Libya.

He also expressed rejection of Turkey’s interference in the Libyan conflict, saying it would “enhance the state of internal polarization.”

Egypt, along with the United Arab Emirates and Russia, supports Haftar and regards him as a bulwark against terrorism in the chaos-stricken country.

It also rejects the interference of Turkey, which backs the GNA led by Haftar’s rival Fayez al-Serraj, in the Libyan domestic conflict.

(XINHUA)

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Egypt, IMF reach 5.2-bln-USD credit deal to help Egypt against COVID-19 consequences

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Egypt and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached a deal to provide the Egyptian government with a 12-month credit agreement worth 5.2 billion United States dollars to help the North African country deal with economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Egyptian finance ministry announced Friday.

This agreement would be presented to the IMF Executive Board for final approval on the requested financing amount, the ministry said in a statement.

The agreement proves the continued confidence of international institutions, especially the IMF, in Egypt‘s economic, monetary and financial policies as well as the country’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the ministry added.

It will help preserve the gains Egypt has achieved in recent years by implementing the economic reform program, according to the finance ministry.

On May 11, the IMF Executive Board approved Egypt‘s request for emergency financial assistance of 2.772 billion dollars over the COVID-19 outbreak.

Prior to the COVID-19 shock, Egypt carried out a successful economic reform supported by the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility to correct large external and domestic imbalances.

Egypt announced its first confirmed COVID-19 case on Feb. 14 and the first death from the highly infectious virus on March 8, both foreigners.

Until Friday night, Egypt‘s total coronavirus cases reached 31,115, including 1,166 deaths and 8,158 recoveries.

In mid-March, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi allocated 100 billion Egyptian pounds (6.35 billion United States dollars) to finance an anti-coronavirus plan.

Since March 25, the Egyptian government has been imposing a nighttime curfew, which varied between nine and 13 hours, to curb the spread of the virus.

The current nine-hour curfew will continue until mid-June, when the government will consider easing restrictions amid a coexistence plan to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming economic activities.

(XINHUA)

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Cairo airport to receive 23 flights carrying Egyptians stranded abroad amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Egypt’s Cairo International Airport is expected to receive on Friday 23 special international flights carrying Egyptians stranded abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The flights, with a total of 3,346 Egyptians, would arrive from Britain, Russia, Germany, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon and others, according to state-run Ahram Online news website.

The airport will also receive four domestic flights from the Red Sea resort city of Marsa Alam after the conclusion of the quarantine period of around 400 Egyptian returnees from abroad, Ahram Online quoted sources at the Cairo International Airport as saying.

Egypt suspended the international flights on March 19 to curb the spread of COVID-19. Since then, several thousands of Egyptians returned home from across the world, including the United States, Britain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, Rwanda, Chad and Niger.

Egypt announced its first confirmed COVID-19 case on Feb. 14 and the first death from the highly infectious virus on March 8, both foreigners.

Until Thursday night, Egypt‘s total coronavirus confirmed cases had reached 29,767, including 1,126 deaths and 7,756 recoveries.

Since March 25, the Egyptian government has been imposing a nighttime curfew, which varied between nine and 13 hours, to curb the spread of the virus.

The current nine-hour curfew will continue until mid-June, when the government will consider easing relevant restrictions amid a coexistence plan to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming economic activities.

The Egyptian government has started gradual reopening of services and offices, and allowed reopening of about 100 hotels for local tourists with 50-percent capacity after they were given official hygiene safety certificates.

(XINHUA)

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South Sudan denies offering Egyptian military base bordering Ethiopia

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South Sudan on Thursday denied recent allegations that Juba agreed to offer the Egyptian military base in the Pagak area of northern Upper Nile bordering Ethiopia.

“The ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation hereby denies in the strongest terms possible, the information which has been circulated in the social media that the government of South Sudan has agreed to Egyptian request to build a military base in Pagak,” it said in a statement issued in Juba.

This came in the wake of media reports on Tuesday alleging that Juba will host the Egyptian military in Pagak area, which used to be the headquarters of the then rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) led by Riek Machar, who is now First Vice President in the transitional unity government.

“There is nothing of that kind, no agreement has been reached whatsoever to allocate a piece of land for Egyptian military base in the territory of the Republic of South Sudan,”

Egypt and Ethiopia are in dispute over Addis Ababa’s construction of the 6,000-MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Cairo fears that the GERD’s construction on the Blue Nile in northern Ethiopian highlands will disrupt Egypt’s share of the Nile‘s water.

(XINHUA)

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Egypt FM holds phone talks with Russia, Germany FMs on regional issues

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Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry held separate phone talks on Wednesday with his Russian and German counterparts where they discussed regional issues of mutual concern, said the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

In his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and later with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Shoukry focused on the situation in the war-torn Libya and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, according to statements by Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez.

“Minister Shoukry stressed the necessity of supporting the UN efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution that would restore security and eliminate all aspects of terrorism in Libya,” Hafez said.

Both Egypt and Russia support Khalifa Haftar, head of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), in his conflict against the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by his rival Fayez al-Serraj.

Libya has been locked in a civil war since the ouster and killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The situation escalated in 2014, splitting power between two rival governments: the UN-backed GNA based in the capital Tripoli and another in the northeastern city of Tobruk allied with Haftar’s LNA.

The separate phone conversations also addressed efforts to revive the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis, urging for a comprehensive and just settlement based on the UN-proposed two-state solution and warning against Israeli plans to further annex occupied Palestinian lands.

They also discussed chances for resuming Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, stressing that any relevant unilateral measures “would push the region towards further complication.”

The Egyptian minister also explained Egypt’s willingness to resume tripartite negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that Ethiopia is building on their shared Nile River.

Over the past few years, tripartite talks on the rules of filling and operating Ethiopia’s grand hydropower dam have been fruitless, amid Egyptian concerns that the GERD construction would affect Egypt’s annual share of Nile water.

(XINHUA)

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Egypt announces new oil discovery in Western Desert

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A new oil discovery was made in Egypt after drilling a well in the Western Desert that would produce massive amounts of crude oil and natural gas, an Egyptian petroleum company said in a statement on Wednesday.

The discovery was achieved by Borg Al Arab Petroleum Company at Abu Sennan concession after drilling Al Salemia Well-5 in the Western Dessert, according to the statement.

“The new discovery has been put on the production plan at a rate of 4,100 barrels of crude oil per day and 18 million cubic feet of natural gas per day,” said the company.

Borg Al Arab Petroleum Company is a joint venture between the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation and Kuwait Energy Egypt, and it is responsible for operations at Abu Sennan concession in the Western Desert.

The company said that its chief reported the new discovery to the Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek al-Molla.

In late 2019, the company announced a petroleum discovery in ASH-2 area of oil rich Abu Sennan, with an average production rate of 7,000 barrels of crude oil and 10 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

Egypt saw a 7-percent surge of oil and gas production in 2019 by producing some 650,000 barrels of crude oil and 7.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, according to a former statement by the Egyptian oil minister.

Egypt’s largest Zohr offshore gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, which was discovered by Italy’s giant Eni in 2015, greatly contributes to the country’s natural gas production as it produces alone about 2.7 billion cubic feet on a daily basis.

(XINHUA)

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Egypt starts gradual reopening of services and offices

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A hotel employee cleans the hand sanitizer machine in Conrad Hotel in Cairo, Egypt, on June 2, 2020. Egyptian government has already started gradual reopening of services and offices that have been halted since mid-March, and allowed reopening of dozens of hotels for local tourists with 50-percent capacity. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

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Egypt sets new daily record with 47 deaths from COVID-19

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Egypt on Tuesday set a new record with 47 single-day fatalities from COVID-19, bringing the death toll in country to 1,052, said the Egyptian Health Ministry.

A total of 1,152 new cases were recorded, raising the total infections with the coronavirus in Egypt since mid-February to 27,536, the ministry’s spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.

It is the sixth consecutive day for Egypt’s COVID-19 daily infections to surpass 1,000.

Megahed added that 380 coronavirus patients were completely cured and discharged from hospitals on Tuesday, increasing the total recoveries to 6,827.

He underscored Egypt‘s close cooperation and coordination with the World Health Organization regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, case detection and necessary medical care.

Egypt announced its first confirmed COVID-19 infection on Feb. 14 and the first death from the highly infectious virus on March 8, both of whom were foreigners.

Since March 25, the Egyptian government has been imposing a constantly renewed nighttime curfew, which varied between nine and 13 hours, to curb the spread of the virus.

The current nine-hour nighttime curfew will continue until mid-June, when the government will consider easing relevant restrictions amid a “coexistence plan” to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming services, businesses and economic activities.

The government has already started gradual reopening of services and offices that have been halted since mid-March, and allowed reopening of dozens of hotels for local tourists with 50-percent capacity.

Egypt and China have been cooperating closely in combating COVID-19 through exchanging medical aid and expertise to curb the spread of the deadly respiratory disease.

Since mid-April, Chinese doctors have held three video conferences with Egyptian counterparts to share their experiences in the prevention and treatment of the novel coronavirus.

(XINHUA)

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National security laws in Egypt help reduce terrorism: Egyptian legislator

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