ACA foils corruption, bribery cases estimated at LE 3B

File – The building of the Administrative Control Authority (ACA)CAIRO – 12 December 2017: Egypt’s Administrative Control Authority (ACA) succeeded in foiling several corruption and bribery attempt cases during the past week, estimated to be worth LE 3 billion ($168 million) and other LE 77 million ($4.3 million) respectively, according to official statements.The accusations targeted lawyers, officials, executive directors and heads of government institutions.According to the statements, the ACA arrested a lawyer offering a bribe up to LE 100,000, along with a piece of land estimated to be worth LE 2 million, to the inspector of the Alexandria Survey Authority Directorate in order to deliver a space of land to him without mentioning the state’s ownership over parts of it.Also, another evaluation general director affiliated with the Governmental Services Authority was arrested for receiving a bribe up to LE 180,000 from a scrap dealer in exchange for declining the ton’s price from LE 6,000 to LE 4,000, which would affect the state's treasury by about LE 1.5 million.In Alexandria, the ACA succeeded in targeting a group of criminals who were aiming to take over several pieces of land estimated at LE 1.4 billion using forged contracts and papers.Other criminals in several governorates were reported to be arrested for similar cases in Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, Luxor and Aswan.In Suez, a former deputy director of housing and utilities was arrested for forging papers for real estate owners, enabling them to prove the payment of their due fees without actually paying anything to the state.According to the ACA papers, this case only caused the state’s treasury to lose about LE 1 million.This is however not the first wide-scale corruption crackdown by ACA. Several other companies were lunched during the past periods that succeed of hunting similar cases.Last November, the first deputy chairman of the Central Housing Cooperative Union was arrested for receiving bribes worth up to LE 8 million and 14 ownership contracts for 14 housing units, as well as other stores, from one of the contractors.The ACA also managed to arrest two siblings offering bribes to the president of Al-Salam district in return for enabling them to illegally obtain a plot of a land on an area of five acres owned by the Ministry of Endowments.

Source:Egypt Today

December 12, 2017 18:11 UTC

EasyJet wins unconditional EU approval to buy Air Berlin assets

FILE PHOTO: EasyJet passengers line up at Nice Cote d'Azur airport as most of the flights are cancelled due to a storm in Nice, France, December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Eric GaillardBRUSSELS - 12 December 2017: British budget airline easyJet (EZJ.L) gained unconditional EU antitrust approval on Tuesday to buy parts of Air Berlin (AB1.DE), in contrast with rival Lufthansa, which is trying to convince regulators of its own bid for other Air Berlin assets.The 40 million euro ($47 million) deal, which includes some of Air Berlin’s operations at Tegel airport, leases for up to 25 A320 aircraft and the taking on of about 1,000 of Air Berlin’s pilots and cabin crew, will make easyJet the largest carrier in the German capital.The European Commission said the acquisition would not hurt competition, confirming a Reuters report on Dec. 4.“EasyJet’s plans to buy certain Air Berlin assets will not reduce competition and we have approved it today,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.“Our decision enables easyJet to grow its presence at Berlin airports and start competing on new routes to the benefit of consumers.”EasyJet said it expected to complete the purchase in the near future. Last week it announced a winter schedule for Tegel and will start competing with Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) on German domestic routes from next month.Booming tourism demand lifted passenger numbers at Berlin’s Tegel and Schoenefeld airports by a combined 11.4 percent last year to almost 33 million.Lufthansa, which wants to purchase Air Berlin units Niki and LGW, will have to give up more airport slots and routes to address competition concerns or face a full-scale EU investigation, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.Air Berlin on Tuesday said that there were no other bidders for Niki after talks with Thomas Cook failed to result in a new offer, leaving Niki’s future uncertain if Lufthansa’s bid is rejected on competition grounds.The Commission, which is scheduled to decide on Lufthansa’s case by Dec. 21, will open a full-scale investigation if the airline fails to address its concerns.

Source:Egypt Today

December 12, 2017 17:26 UTC

Hamas leader hails Al-Azhar position over Jerusalem

FILE – Head of the political bureau of Hamas Ismail HaniyehCAIRO – 12 December 2017: Ismail Haniyeh, head of the political bureau of Hamas, hailed the position of Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmad al-Tayeb and other Al-Azhar scholars on Tuesday for rejecting U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.In a phone conversation with Tayeb, Haniyeh expressed his high appreciation for the refusal of the grand imam to meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in protest against the U.S. decision, according to a statement by Haniyeh's office.The Hamas leader hailed Egypt’s position, stating that Al-Azhar has always expressed the pulse of the nation throughout history, indicating that it is the custodian of the pillars of the nation.Tayeb stressed that the position of Al-Azhar is alongside the Palestinian people and their steadfastness, rights and resistance, pointing out that he was in a meeting with Al-Azhar scholars to study the developments of the Jerusalem case.He also pointed out that Al-Azhar will call for holding an expanded Islamic conference in Cairo and that invitations will be directed to Palestinian leaders from different sides to participate in the conference.On Friday, Tayeb announced his rejection to meet with Pence, saying, "How can I sit with those who granted what they do not own to those who do not deserve it. "On Wednesday night, Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel during a televised speech from the White House. Trump’s decision was met by a barrage of criticism and condemnations from many Arab and world leaders, while protests took place in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and different parts of the Arab world.

Source:Egypt Today

December 12, 2017 17:03 UTC

FA asks Manchester rivals for observations after fracas reports

Premier League - Manchester United vs Manchester City - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - December 10, 2017 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho at the end of the match Action Images via Reuters/Carl RecineLONDON - 12 December 2017: Manchester United and Manchester City have been asked by the Football Association for their observations after reports that United boss Jose Mourinho had milk and water thrown at him by City players after Sunday's derby.British media reported that Mourinho was upset by City's excessive celebrations after their 2-1 victory at Old Trafford opened up an 11-point lead at the top of the Premier League.Mikel Arteta, part of City's coaching team, was also reported to have suffered a cut in the alleged incidents. "The FA has contacted both clubs for their observations following reports of an incident after the Manchester derby yesterday. They have until 13 December to respond," the governing body said in a statement on Monday.Referee Michael Oliver did not witness any post-match incidents and made no reference to anything untoward in his match report.Old Trafford has witnessed bizarre tunnel incidents before, notably in 2004 when former United manager Alex Ferguson was hit by a pizza thrown by an Arsenal player.City posted photos of their players celebrating in the dressing-room with silver tickertape after Nicolas Otamendi's second-half winner against United gave them a record 14th consecutive Premier League victory.

Source:Egypt Today

December 12, 2017 16:41 UTC

Moderates walk out as French opposition veers right

© AFP / by Clare BYRNE | Laurent Wauquiez, hard-right president of the Republicans party, has seen moderates quit the party following his election to the leadership. PARIS - 12 December 2017: France's new opposition leader Laurent Wauquiez scrambled Tuesday to hold his Republicans party together, two days after it picked the controversial rightwinger to take on centrist President Emmanuel Macron.Wauquiez was elected head of the centre-right Republicans on Sunday, running on a hard-right platform that has seen him accused of cosying up to far-right National Front (FN) voters.Twenty-four hours later, Xavier Bertrand, a party heavyweight from the northern Pas-de-Calais region, quit the Republicans -- the first of a handful of politicians to walk out. "I no longer recognise my political family, so I've decided to quit," Bertrand, a moderate who served as the party's secretary-general from 2007 to 2010, said Monday evening, accusing Wauquiez of "aggressiveness".On Tuesday, the mayor of the northern town of Roubaix, Guillaume Delbar, followed suit, as did two other Bertrand loyalists in the north.Explaining his decision, Delbar said: "I cannot stay in a party whose leader did not choose clearly between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen".Delbar was referring to Wauquiez's refusal to endorse Macron over the FN leader in this year's presidential election after the Republicans candidate, Francois Fillon, was knocked out of the race.Mainstream parties of the left and right have traditionally rallied around the FN's opponent in the final round of elections to block the far-right's path to power.But Wauquiez, a 42-year-old devout Catholic who takes a tough line on immigration and security, stopped short of backing Macron, only calling on voters to "not vote for Marine Le Pen".Celebrating his election as party chief on Sunday, Wauquiez vowed to lead a "renaissance" of the right.- 'I need you' -He romped to victory over two little-known rivals, winning 75 percent of the votes cast by close to 100,000 party members.But he faces a tough task to rebuild the once powerful party -- it changed its name from UMP to Republicans in 2015 -- which has lost millions of voters and several party heavyweights to Macron.Analysts have said the only way the Republicans can survive Macron's centrist offensive is by tacking to the right to win voters from the FN -- at the risk of turning off more moderates.On Tuesday, Wauquiez took a swipe at the departing Bertrand, saying it was "unacceptable to slam the door in this way".But he also attempted to heal party divisions. "Come as you are. I need you," he was quoted as telling Republicans lawmakers at a meeting, calling for "unity".

Source:Egypt Today

December 12, 2017 16:32 UTC

U.S. officials at Cairo Airport before Pence visit to Egypt

Cairo International Airport – FileCAIRO – 12 December 2017: An American security delegation arrived at Cairo International Airport on Tuesday to inspect the airport before the visit of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to Egypt on December 20.The delegation included a number of U.S. officials, who, in coordination with Egyptian security officials, will prepare the entire visit and check all necessary facilities for the arrival of the vice president, said a security source at the airport.Pence announced that he would visit Egypt in December, according to the Associated Press (AP). During his visit, Pence will meet with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to discuss US-Egyptian cooperation on security issues.One goal of Pence's visit is to meet with religious leaders to discuss ways of addressing the persecution of Christians and all religious minorities across the Middle East. The grand imam called on Trump to overturn his illegitimate and illegal decision.Pope Tawadros of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark is also refusing to meet with Pence, announced Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church in a Saturday statement. Israeli forces fired tear gas at protesters, killing two Palestinians and injuring more than 300 others. On Saturday, Israeli airstrikes killed two others and injured dozens, raising the injured toll to 1,114 people, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Source:Egypt Today

December 12, 2017 16:18 UTC

Syria forces not yet victorious but IS already defeated

© AFP / by Rouba El Husseini | A member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) removes an Islamic State group flag in the northern town of Tabqa on April 30, 2017 after capturing it from the jihadistsBEIRUT - 12 December 2017: Syria is expected to soon follow in Iraq's footsteps in proclaiming victory against the ISIS group, whose fighters are either on the run or trapped and largely toothless.On Saturday, the Baghdad government declared the end of a huge military effort that saw Iraqi forces painstakingly reclaim every little piece of the third of the country the jihadists controlled three years ago.The Syrian side of the "caliphate" IS proclaimed in 2014 has also disintegrated, with now only gaggles of fighters launching short-lived attacks or clinging to small pockets where they are completely besieged.IS no longer controls a single town in Syria and while it may still count several thousand fighters among its ranks, observers expect Damascus to declare final victory before the end of the year.Syria's top ally Russia called it last week when senior military officer Sergei Rudskoi claimed "Syria has been completely liberated from fighters of this terrorist organisation".On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron argued that was slightly premature and predicted that "military operations against Daesh (IS) in Syria will continue until mid- to late February".Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, argued that IS was now largely rudderless and that surviving units were essentially fending for themselves. "There no longer is one central command giving orders. "It has tried to maintain governance where it exercises formal and full control, but the norm now is functioning as an insurgent group," said Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, an academic and expert on jihadists.The whereabouts and current level of involvement of IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are unknown. The group no longer has a clear centre of power and its once unstoppable propaganda machine is sputtering out a now anaemic production. "I am sure there is still a chain of command but the overall structure is likely less cohesive than before," Tamimi said.

Source:Egypt Today

December 12, 2017 16:07 UTC

EU withdraws support for Cambodia election.

© Tang Chhin Sothy, AFP | Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (C) poses for selfies with supporters of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) on the last day of the commune election campaign in Phnom Penh on June 2, 2017. CAMBODIA - 12 December 2017: The EU on Tuesday pulled support for Cambodia's election authority, questioning the legitimacy of upcoming polls after the dissolution of the opposition transformed the kingdom into a virtual one-party state under strongman Hun Sen.A Supreme Court ruling last month dissolved the main opposition to the incumbent Cambodian People's Party (CPP) after Hun Sen intensified his attacks on them with elections looming next year.In a statement the European Union described the ruling as arbitrary and said as a result the election "cannot be seen as legitimate".The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) had won almost 45 percent of the vote in the 2013 national elections and nearly the same proportion in this year's local polls.Its electoral success posed a threat to the 32-year rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who wants to press ahead with the elections despite international outcry over his assault on Cambodia's fragile democracy.The EU said that the Supreme Court's decision and the subsequent reallocation of the opposition's national and local seats to other parties "denies the choice of those who voted for the party in the elections in 2013 and 2017".Support provided by the EU to Cambodia's National Election Committee (NEC) includes funding for voter education materials, deployment of advisers, and assistance for a preliminary results management system.National Election Committee deputy secretary-general Som Sorida expressed disappointment with the EU statement, but said other supporters, including Japan, South Korea, China and Russia remained in place.In recent months, Cambodia's government has launched a sweeping crackdown on dissent and other perceived challenges to the regime, arresting CNRP leader Kem Sokha and sending dozens of lawmakers fleeing into exile to avoid a similar fate.Hun Sen, who rose to power in the aftermath of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, has said he wants to remain in office for another decade or so.Analysts say US President Donald Trump's hands-off approach to human rights issues paired with support from regional behemoth China have emboldened Hun Sen to throw off any pretence to democracy and turn Cambodia into a one-party state.But while Hun Sen has praised Trump's no-nonsense style, Washington has also taken steps to censure Cambodia for its recent actions, putting visa restrictions on senior officials this month and withdrawing its own support for the country's election authority in November.Hun Sen has doubled down his position and has yet to face any protests about his attack on the opposition and democracy.On Tuesday he said that his government did the "right thing" in dissolving the CNRP, in comments clearly alluding to the party and its leadership but that did not mention them by name. "Though the head was cut, the body was destroyed, but the bad intentions of those who stand behind them have not subsided yet," Hun Sen said, adding "we must keep a careful eye on them."

Source:Egypt Today

December 12, 2017 15:56 UTC