Egypt army to end emergency before polls

Egypt's ruling military council intends to lift emergency laws before parliamentary and presidential elections are held, a member of a committee redrafting the constitution said on Wednesday. 

"The military council said it guaranteed lifting the emergency law ahead of parliament and then presidential elections," Saleh, the only member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group on the 10-man committee, told Reuters, adding the elections are scheduled within the coming six months.

"The council has put these articles on the table according to people's demands for reform," Saleh said.  It was not immediately possible to confirm whether the Military Council had given such a guarantee.

Egypt's Higher Military Council took control of the country of 80 million people last week when Mubarak resigned after more than two weeks of massive protests against his 30-year rule.

The army has said it will lift the emergency law when the country returns to stability following some three weeks of tumult. Many public sector employees are striking over pay and conditions and police are returning to Egypt's streets after withdrawing on Jan. 18 amid clashes with protesters. 

The army has set up a committee to carry out constitutional amendments before new parliamentary and presidential elections which it hopes will take place within six months. 

The military intend to hold a referendum on constitutional reforms within two months. The committee is headed by Tareq al-Bishry, a respected retired judge known for his independence. Other members are jurists, legal experts and lawyers.

The committee held its first meeting on Wednesday to discuss changes to Egypt's constitution after the overthrow of Mubarak, who maintained emergency laws imposed when his predecessor Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981.

The laws are regarded as having stifled political life in the country of 80 million and encouraged the extension of the security apparatus into every aspect of life.

"This is not a political committee but a technical legal committee tasked with treating the legal flaws of the constitution," Saleh said. 

 

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