Egyptian army officers arrest a suspected demonstrators (Photo: Reuters)
A decree authorising the armed forces to arrest civilians — a right previously reserved for police officers alone — will soon be issued by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, reported state-owned Al-Ahram daily Friday.
The decree would be in effect until a constitution is approved and parliamentary elections finalised, and would cover other circumstances in which the president requests the army's interference.
"The Armed Forces are to coordinate the preservation of security and protection of vital premises with the police," read the decree published on Al-Ahram's website.
According to Al-Ahram, the decree was approved by Egypt's Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Hisham Qandil in their last meeting.
A similar controversial decree was introduced 13 June, during the transition period ruled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, when the Ministry of Justice issued a decree authorising both military intelligence officers and military police officers to arrest civilians.
On 26 June, the decree was slammed by Egypt's Administration Court which ordered its suspension. The decree was also denounced by human rights activists and legal experts.
"I expected the decree to be revoked; it was illegal in the first place, and even if the court had not ruled against it, [the president-elect Mohamed] Morsi's first decision would have been to nullify this decree," lawyer Hossam Eissa told Ahram Online after the decree was overturned in court in June.