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New temporary law allows Egypt's army to protect vital sites

New temporary law issued by Egypt's president allows army to assist police in guarding vital institutions for two years

Ahram Online, Monday 27 Oct 2014
Military
Egyptian Military September, 2014 (Photo:Reuters)
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Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi issued a law on Monday that allows the military to assist the police in guarding vital public facilities.

The law, to be applied for two years, stipulates that those who attack these government facilities will be referred to military prosecutors and tried by a military court.

El-Sisi holds legislative powers in the absence of a parliament, which authorities say will be elected by the end of this year.

These vital facilities include electric power stations and pylons, gas pipelines, oil fields, railway stations, roads networks and bridges, presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.

The move comes amid Egypt's efforts to protect civilians and ensure that they are supplied with vital services as well as protect state facilities and public properties, Youssef said.

The law was issued after consultation with the National Defence Council, and per approval from the cabinet and State Council.

On Friday, the National Defence Council – chaired by the president and comprised of the prime minister, the head of parliament, the minister of defence and the commanders of the Egyptian armed forces – held an urgent meeting after a North Sinai attack on an army checkpoint left 31 people dead and 30 injured.

Egypt's constitution, passed earlier this year, addresses military courts in article 204 – which limits their jurisdiction to ''direct assaults" against military zones, facilities, buildings and border zones.

El-Sisi has blamed foreign parties for Friday's attack, claiming that Egypt is experiencing an "existential war".

Egypt's cabinet on Saturday agreed to amend a military judiciary law to let military courts try terrorism-related cases that "jeopardise the country's security".

The law is expected to be issued in the next few days.

A militant insurgency by jihadist groups in the Sinai Peninsula has intensified since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Hundreds of police officers and soldiers, as well as militants, have been killed in the violence.

No militant group has yet come forward to claim responsibility for Friday's attacks, although Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, a jihadist group active in Sinai, has claimed responsibility for many similar attacks.
 

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