Military head ends state of emergency, except in ‘thug-related cases’

Egypt has decided to lift the state of emergency except in certain cases, the head of Egypt's ruling military council said on Tuesday. The change is to become effective Wednesday.

"I have taken a decision to end the state of emergency," Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi said in a televised address, adding that it would still apply in dealing with cases of "thuggery." He did not spell out what that meant.

Tantawi’s speech, which came on the occasion of the anniversary for the start of the 25 January revolution, declared that the state of emergency is cancelled as of Thursday, 25 January. Mubarak used that law to repress Egyptians for 30 years, and the council also decided to extend it last September.

The armed forces will assume its role in protecting the country’s borders as soon as the interim period is over, Tantawi added.

He lauded the Egyptian people and their role in the elections. Tantawi also lauded the victims and the injured of the revolution along with police personnel and Egyptian judges.

On 11 September, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) decided to extend the much-hated Emergency Law, which had long been used by ousted President Hosni Mubarak's regime to suppress freedoms.

The SCAF extended the state of emergency to June 2012. The SCAF also broadened the law to apply to charges of thuggery, obstructing traffic, and disseminating false information through media outlets.

The SCAF’s decision was met with a storm of criticism from human rights activists, politicians and legal activists, who said the SCAF was following in the footsteps of Mubarak's regime by cracking down on the media, and on freedoms of opinion and expression.

On 3 October, Tantawi defended the council's decision to broaden the notorious Emergency Law, against demands from political and revolutionary movements to end the state of emergency.

In a press statement, he said “the current security situation” in Egypt led the SCAF to renew a state of emergency.

“None of us want to declare a state of emergency, but the current security situation in Egypt led us to activate it,” said Tantawi. “No one can believe that a wife can be kidnapped from her husband in the street.”

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