Egypt will not extend state of emergency

24 October 2013

Cairo says emergency law will end in November as new draft law restricting protests draws criticism

Egypt’s Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has said the government will not extend the state of emergency that has been in place since mid-August.

He said the military curfew would come to an end in mid-November and that any extension would require a referendum. At the same time, the government is also facing opposition to a draft law that would strictly regulate street protests and, which critics say, would give too much power to the state to use lethal force.

The draft law would ban sit-ins and require protesters to seek Interior Ministry approval for any demonstration. It also stops protests from occuring near government buildings, effectively banning demonstrations at Tahrir Square, which has been the centre of public protests since early 2011. Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa al-Din has indicated the legilsation could be delayed because of the opposition.

A state of emergency was imposed on Egypt following the violent clampdown on Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi. Pro-Mursi camps were set up in Cairo’s main squares in August before being cleared by Egypt’s security forces, resulting in the deaths of at least 900 people.

Mursi was ousted from power on 3 July by the military following a popular demonstration by Egyptians calling for his resignation. Mursi had only been in power for a year, but was accused of mismanaging the economy and giving the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood too much influence in government.

Since the clampdown the brotherhood has been increasingly marginalised, with its leaders arrested and the group denied political representation.

However, news reports say Egypt’s chief prosecutor has called for a criminal trial of four police officers charged with killing 39 members of the brotherhood.

The brotherhood members died in the back of a police van after teargas was fired into the vehicle.

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