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Egypt

Yearbook 2006

Egypt. According to CountryAAH, the US suspended negotiations on trade agreements with Egypt in January in protest of opposition politician Ayman Nur being sentenced in December 2005 to five years in prison for falsifying documents when his party al-Ghad (Morning Day) was registered. Nur challenged President Hosni Mubarak in the September 2005 presidential election. Thousands protested in May when an appeals court dismissed Nurse's appeal.

2006 Egypt

Parliament decided on February 14 to postpone scheduled local elections for two years. It was a setback to the formally banned Muslim Brotherhood that had strengthened its positions in the 2005 parliamentary elections, when a number of independent candidates loyal to the party were elected.

In September, Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) held a party congress. The president's son Gamal Mubarak gave a distinguished speech in which he questioned US policy in the Middle East and talked about the need to invest in nuclear energy. Some observers saw the speech as a sign of Gamal Mubarak's attempt to strengthen his position as a possible successor to his father. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said during a visit in October that the US supported peaceful nuclear energy programs but wanted to await the Egyptian government's position.

A state legal committee decided on May 11 to consider whether two judges were guilty of slander when they alleged that electoral fraud occurred in the parliamentary elections. One week later, one of the judges was released while the other received a reprimand. Thousands of people gathered in Cairo and the police seized hundreds. Several hundred judges participated in a silent protest on May 25 against the government's involvement in the justice system.

Journalists protested in July against a bill that would make it criminal to investigate alleged corruption, which was seen as further restrictions on freedom of expression

On April 19, 22 militant Islamists were arrested who were alleged to have planned attacks on tourist facilities as well as against Muslim and Christian leaders. The message coincided with a debate to extend the exceptions laws introduced in 1981 following the assassination of then President Anwar Sadat. Opposition Muslim Brotherhood claimed that the strike was a pretext to extend the exception laws. Parliament decided in May to extend the law for two years.

Nineteen people were killed and 85 injured when several explosive attacks on April 24 shook the resort of Dahab on the Red Sea. Most of the victims were Egyptians, but some were foreigners. The deed was blamed on Islamist Tawhid wa al-Jihad (Unity and Holy War) accused of similar deeds.

In early May, six suspects and one police officer were killed in connection with strikes against groups suspected of Dahab death. The Interior Ministry reported that the group's leader, Nasser Khamis al-Mallahi, was killed in gunfire with police while one of his closest men was arrested.

Three Egyptians, allegedly belonging to Tawhid wa al-Jihad, were sentenced to death in November for involvement in the 2004 bombing of the Sinai Peninsula when 34 people were killed. The three stated that their confessions were forced under torture. Two co-defendants were sentenced to life and eight others received five to fifteen years in prison.

More than 1,000 people died on February 3 when a ferry carrying about 1,400 people on board lost ground in the Red Sea while traveling from Saudi Arabia to Safaga in southern Egypt. A fire that broke out may have contributed to the accident because the car tire was filled with water as the crew tried to extinguish the fire. In April, a parliamentary committee accused the shipping company, the government and the Egyptian Maritime Administration of not correcting a number of ferry deficiencies. Among other things, there were missing lifeboats and suitable fire equipment. At least 58 people were killed and 144 injured on August 21 when two trains collided in Qaluib, just north of Cairo. The head of the state railway company was dismissed.

On March 20, the Ministry of Health reported that a woman had died of bird flu. She became the first known death in Egypt. Bird flu had been found on February 17 in a poultry herd. Up to October, seven people were reported to have died from the deadly H5N1 virus.

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