x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

High price of Egyptian corruption

It's comes as no surprise that the Egyptian government has cracked down on corruption to improve its image in the run-up to legislative elections, says Mohammed Salah in the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

It's comes as no surprise that the Egyptian government has cracked down on corruption to improve its image in the run-up to legislative elections, says Mohammed Salah in the London-based newspaper Al Hayat. As the elections approach, the government is expected to prosecute a number of corruption cases; a campaign Egyptians want relentlessly pursued. For many, including officials, corruption has reached alarming levels that call out for action.

But will ordinary citizens ever see the benefits of this crackdown? Embezzled public funds can be reclaimed, while large swathes of Egyptians might still have recourse to the courts. However, its critical that citizens are not subject to "election bribery", such as providing public services to people not entitled to in return for votes. "To fight corruption, there is a need to promote public awareness, regardless of the government's development plans, which could succeed or fail. Moreover, there is no point in a campaign which increases one type of corruption at the expense of another. This in itself is a type of corruption." Former ministers and governors have been sued over corruption charges, but most were prosecuted only after quitting office. Many Egyptians are now wondering why those officials were not tried whilst still in power, concludes the author.

"President Omar al Bashir has sold half of Sudan since signing an agreement with southerners to grant them the right to self-determination, that simply translates into separation," argues Abdul Rahman al Rashed in the opinion pages of pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

"And no matter how hard he tries to embellish the deal by presenting it as a confederation between two entities that will maintain special relations, he is also ready to sell Darfur, which amounts to a quarter of the country, simply in order to escape the international prosecution." Yet what is wrong with allowing southerners to decide upon their own destiny - as most are neither Arabs, nor Muslims?

"I'm not against independence if this is their real desire, but I believe the whole separation project is, in essence, an attempt to escape from a despotic regime." It is a regime that has badly affected all Sudanese, whether Arabs or Africans, prompting them to seek "salvation" by way of secession. If this continues, Sudan might dismantle into cantons. To avoid such a sad fate, major powers must not encourage this trend just for the sake of weakening Mr al Bashir to then oust him. Rather, they should promote internal peace and preserve the country's unity within a federal system that respects the sovereign rights of the state.

Anomalies do not occur in the world the way they do in Lebanon. It's already the third week of July and the budget bill has just been referred to the parliament for discussion. That will take at least more than two months, which in practice means past the 2011 constitutional deadline for the draft budget law, notes the Lebanese newspaper Al Anwar in its editorial.

In the meantime, ministries and other state departments should draft their budgets for 2011, while they appear before the House of Representatives to defend the late 2010 budget. As this unusual overlap becomes a reality, citizens get confused, while officials are submerged by a backlog of unfinished tasks. It's strange for it to happen in a small country with limited projects underway. The public budget is nothing more than public employees' salaries, public debt service, and a remaining 20 per cent reserved for financing public non-investment development programmes. The row over the budget delay has little to do with technical issues but rather political wrangling among the major parties, as each tries to hold sway. But this debate among politicians is futile and less likely to promote good governance, which depends largely on the respect of deadlines as laid down in the constitution.

The EU's stance towards Palestine replicates the US, even though Catherine Ashton, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, has assured it of financial and diplomatic support toward a viable and independent state,writes the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej.

Recent assurances invite questions as to European culpability in the Israeli occupation, given that the fundamentals that can guarantee a sustainable Palestinian state are no longer in place. If the US has failed to stop Israeli expansionism, it remains doubtful if their European counterparts can take on the same job. Ms Ashton may have talked of democracy, but she also ignored the fact that the Knesset may soon pass a law that obliges Palestinians to recognise the Jewish identity of Israel.

To win the trust of Arabs and Palestinians alike, Europe still needs to condemn such discriminatory practices. To achieve that, it first needs to develop an independent position. So far, most promises have turned out to be fruitless. Although the EU provides financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, it also pushes the Palestinians to engage in talks without tackling current issues. * Digest compiled by Mostapha el Mouloudi