Sharaf defends emergency law, weighs in on other issues

Ahram Online, Tuesday 20 Sep 2011

According to the prime minister, the current government is doing its best to push Egypt towards democracy

Essam Sharaf

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has defended the military council’s recent decision to reactivate the emergency law, saying that it was put in place to protect the revolution.

Sharaf said that the emergency law is important in order to stop those who are trying to ruin the January 25 Revolution. He also assured Egyptians that the law, which was initially put in force by ousted President Mubarak in 1981, will be lifted as soon as possible.

Sharaf, who spoke to the media while opening a new hall at the Cairo International Airport, also weighed in on several issues which have been plaguing Egyptian society since the revolution began.

He pointed out that the security vacuum which the country has witnessed since the police force evacuated the streets during the height of the revolution on January 28 is slowly decreasing, but the problem nevertheless remains and the Egyptian people need to support the police force so that life can return to normal.

Sharaf also denied that his government is biased towards Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, and accused those who make these statements of merely putting obstacles in the way of the government.

Sharaf added that the government is currently facing many problems because of the absence of a parliament, but that it is working hard to push Egypt towards democracy.

The prime minister also stressed that the current government is only there temporarily, to ensure that elections for the first post-Mubarak Parliament and Upper House are fair and transparent.

Sharaf also commented on the recent crisis concerning Egyptian pilgrims stranded for days at Jeddah airport in Saudi Arabia, and said that Saudi authorities are investigating the issue and are looking into a law to punish those who treated the Egyptians inhumanely at that time.

The prime minister also discussed the teachers' strike, which entered its fourth day today, saying that he is working with the minister of education to resolve the crisis and study the demands presented by the teachers. He also added that the minister of education held a meeting with the minister of finance on Monday night to see if the teachers' financial demands could be met. However, Sharaf noted that Egypt has 1.5 million teachers and it will be difficult to meet all their demands, especially during the current economic climate.

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