UPDATE 1-Egypt pens energy debt payoff deal, puts activists on trial

Thu Dec 5, 2013 12:22pm EST
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* Egypt says agrees timetable on $3 bln in oil arrears

* Prosecutor refers activists to trial after protests

* Hardline Islamist party urges support for constitution

* Footballer banned from internationals over Mursi support

By Tom Perry

CAIRO, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Egypt's army-installed government unveiled a timetable to pay $3 billion of $6.3 billion it owes to foreign oil firms on Thursday, part of a campaign to revive confidence in an economy hammered by three years of political turmoil.

Five months after President Mohamed Mursi's downfall and following a fierce crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood, the government is trying to restore a semblance of normalcy by moving ahead with a political roadmap and boosting the economy.

But criticism of the army-backed authorities has spread recently to include secular activists angered at government moves seen as a threat to political freedoms won by the 2011 uprising against president Hosni Mubarak.

On Thursday, prosecutors ordered three dissidents to stand trial over protests ignited by a law that severely restricts the right to demonstrate. They include Ahmed Maher, one of the symbols of the 2011 uprising, who faces charges including protesting without official permission.   Continued...