Egypt's parliament to vote extending state of emergency for additional three months

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 31 Oct 2020

The state of emergency has been extended since 2017 on the grounds of fighting terrorism and safeguarding national security against foreign threats

Egypt Parliament (Photo: Khaled Mashaal)
Egypt Parliament (Photo: Khaled Mashaal)

Egypt’s parliament will hold a one-day meeting on Sunday to discuss and vote a decree issued by President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi on extending the country’s state of emergency for three more months, starting at one a.m. on Monday 26 October.

The state of emergency, which has been in effect since 2017, has been extended on the grounds of fighting terrorism, protecting national security and implementing development programs in a stable climate.

The emergency law was amended last April to also allow the president take emergency measures necessary to fight infectious diseases such as the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the bylaws of the Egyptian House of Representatives, two-thirds of MPs must approve imposing or extending a state of emergency within seven days of the issuing of the decree.

The decree (no.596) was published in Sunday's issue (25 October) of the official Egyptian gazette.

The House's internal bylaws also state that parliament must receive a letter from the prime minister citing the reasons which justify extending the state of emergency for three months. The prime minister's letter should state that the government is committed to maintaining a balance between the protection of public freedom and the necessities of national security.

The House's general committee, headed by a speaker, two deputies and chairmen of general committees and representatives of political forces must convene to discuss the new extension decree and ask the Defence and National Security Committee to prepare a report on it.

Sunday's one-day meeting comes while parliamentary elections are being held in Egypt to elect a new parliament. Informed sources said the one-day meeting will be devoted purely to discussing and voting the new extension of the state of emergency as most MPs are busy contesting parliamentary elections.

The current parliament's tenure will expire on 9 January 2021.

Most MPs are expected to vote in favor of extending the state of emergency for an additional three months.

The majority of MPs are affiliated with Mostaqbal Watan (the Nation's Future) party which is a strong supporter of the policies of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi.

They believe the state of emergency has been a very effective tool in containing terrorism and violence which hit Egypt following the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in 2013.

MPs also cite the civil war in Libya as a big threat to Egypt's national security and that the emergency law should be extended to be used to stand up to this threat.

According to the articles of El-Sisi's 25 October decree, “the Armed Forces and police shall take all the necessary measures to combat the dangers of terrorism and its financing sources in order to maintain security throughout the country, protect public and private property and save the lives of citizens.”

According to Article 154 of Egypt's 2014 constitution, the emergency law can only be implemented for three months, after which it has to be renewed by the president and should be approved by the parliament.

The state of emergency was declared for the first time in May 2017 by President El-Sisi when two churches were bombed in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday, killing 47 people.

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