Egypt parliament approves extending state of emergency for three months

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 21 Oct 2018

PM Mostafa Madbouly told parliament that the state of emergency will not negatively affect public freedoms. Gamal Essam El-Din reports

Egyptian parliament
File photo: A general view shows members of the Egyptian parliament attending the opening session at the main headquarters of Parliament in Cairo, Egypt, January 10, 2016 (Reuters)

Egypt’s parliament – the House of Representatives – approved on Sunday a three-month extension of a nationwide state of emergency.

In a short statement before parliament in a morning plenary session, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly told MPs that the extension is still necessary due to security challenges facing the country and the importance of fighting terrorist movements targeting Egypt.

"The extension of the state of emergency is also necessary to ensure that the country moves forward on the road of comprehensive development in a climate of complete stability," said Madbouly, adding that "the efforts of combating terrorism have helped a lot in recovering stability and achieving a lot in the area of development."

Madbouly said terrorist acts that have led to the killing of security forces and civilians are just desperate attempts orchestrated by rogue criminal elements.

"Security and army forces were able to eliminate most of these elements and uncover their conspiracies as part of the framework of Operation Sinai 2018," said Madbouly, arguing that "these successes make it necessary to help forces complete the war against dark forces."

Madbouly vowed that the government will resort to taking exceptional measures only in a way that strikes a balance between public freedoms and the necessities of national security.

"The state of emergency is mainly aimed at helping security and army forces to uproot terrorism," said Madbouly.

Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal told MPs that President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi issued a presidential decree (no.473/2018) extending the state of emergency for three months, starting 1am on 15 October.

"The decree, which goes in line with Article 154 of the constitution, will be referred to parliament's general committee in line with Article 131 of parliament's internal bylaws to prepare a report on it and to be a subject of the vote," said Abdel-Aal.

The report, reviewed by the head of parliament's Defence and National Security Committee and former chief of military intelligence Kamal Amer, said "the extension of the state of emergency is still necessary to thwart all terrorist attempts aimed at destabilising Egypt."

"The emergency law has been highly effective in uncovering a number of terrorist organisations and foiling their operations," said Amer, adding that "emergency measures in the coming period will be mainly focused on battling other terrorist movements, revealing their sources of funding and whether they have contacts with foreign elements."

"The declaration of emergency goes in favour of securing the higher interests of Egypt and represents a very effective tool in eliminating the threat of terrorism," said Amer.

However, parliament’s 25-30 bloc said in a statement that the state of emergency represents an assault on freedoms and rights.

"The fact that Egypt has been under the state of emergency for more than six months and without holding a public referendum represents a violation of the spirit of the constitution and repeats the 30-year scenario of emergency law under [former president] Hosni Mubarak regime," said the statement.

President El-Sisi first imposed the three-month nationwide state of emergency in April last year, following twin bombings at two churches in Gharbeya and Alexandria, which killed at least 47 and wounded over 120.

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