Egypt finally bids adieu to emergency law



Egypt finally bids adieu to emergency law Cairo: Days after holding its first free and fair presidential election, Egypt on Thursday did away with a three decade old state of emergency, with the ruling military council stating that it would not be further extended.

The state of emergency in Egypt was imposed after former president Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981 and the country has almost always been under such a law since then.

An extension was in place until midnight today and the ruling military council, that had first extended the law to include strikes but then restricted its application to "thuggery", said there would be no further extensions.

The military said it will continue its "national and historic responsibility, taking into account that the state of emergency has ended, in accordance with the constitutional declaration and with the law," it said.

In a statement, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said it would rule until the end of the transitional period and would continue to "protect" the country and its citizens.

"Out of the armed forces' sense of national and historical responsibility, and in light of the state of emergency's expiration, the application of the provisions of the Constitutional Declaration and the law, and in response to national, popular and political aspirations, the SCAF assures the Egyptian people that it will continue to bear the national responsibility of protecting the homeland and its citizens during this important stage of our nation's history and until power is handed over," read the statement.

The emergency law's first article says that a state of emergency can be declared whenever there is a risk to security or public order anywhere in the country, whether from war, risk of war, internal disturbances, public disasters or pandemics.

On January 23 this year, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, decided to lift the state of emergency, but he left in place a clause stating that the law could be applied in cases of "thuggery", without spelling out what this meant.

A disagreement then erupted between political forces and legal scholars about how to interpret "thuggery" under the law.

It is worth mentioning that more than half of the Egyptian population is under the age of 30 and has lived an entire life under emergency law. However, for average Egyptians the end of the state of emergency is not that big an issue.

The Egyptians are currently overwhelmed by the upcoming presidential runoffs, and the fact that they are stuck between a rock and a hard spot -- a representative of the former regime and the other of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The country will vote on June 16, 17 in a presidential run off to pick between Mohammed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, the democratic successor of Hosni Mubarak.

PTI