News24

Egypt wants extension of emergency law

2010-05-11 11:59

Cairo - Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif will on Tuesday ask parliament, which is dominated by the ruling party, to extend the state of emergency by two years, cabinet minister Mufid Shehab said.

Egypt's decades-old emergency law gives police extended powers of arrest, suspends constitutional rights and curbs non-governmental political activity. Special courts set up under the law deny a right of appeal.

"The government is going to ask for an extension (of the emergency law) for two years," Shehab told reporters, saying Nazif will address the People's Assembly later on Tuesday.

The move to extend the status is widely expected to go through considering it needs a simple majority to pass and parliament is dominated by President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

The state of emergency was imposed in 1981 after the assassination by Islamists of president Anwar Sadat and has been repeatedly renewed since then despite protests from local and international rights groups and regime opponents.

The controversial law is set to expire on May 31. Parliament would be voting to extend the state of emergency from June 1 to May 31, 2012, Shehab said.

But he insisted that it would only be applied to "crimes confined to terrorism and the trafficking of narcotics".

Egypt's authorities have used the state of emergency to clamp down on political opponents, including the country's largest opposition movement, the banned Muslim Brotherhood, whose members sit in parliament as independents.